By Pamela Wood
Baltimore County could make significant improvements to how it responds to emergency situations involving people with mental health issues, including hiring more crisis counselors and expanding training for police officers and 911 call-takers, an outside group says in a new report.
County Executive Kevin Kamenetz ordered an independent review of how police and first responders handle mental health calls after a series of incidents involving subjects with mental illness, including the police shooting death of Korryn Gaines in her Randallstown apartment in 2016.
In a report made public on Wednesday, the Council of State Governments said there are several areas where the county needs to improve how it handles people with mental illness.
The report paints a picture of a crisis response system that has a good foundation but suffers from a lack of coordination, a lack of oversight and insufficient staffing.
“In the scheme of things, what they have in place is fairly effective,” said Richard Cho, director of the behavioral health division of the Council of State Governments. “What they need to do is plug in the holes.”