Tampa police hiring mental health counselors to partner with officers

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Police Department is looking to hire licensed mental health counselors as part of a new partnership between the department and an agency that helps those suffering with their mental health.

The initiative goes beyond the desk. Police are looking to pair counselors and clinicians with officers and have them get in patrol cars and hit the streets.

“We are going to be boots on the ground. We are going to be responding to all crisis calls,” said Officer Angie Torres. Torres was involved in a similar program when she worked for the San Diego Police Department.

“We were a team, we were one. Our best interest was to help the community,” she said.

The partnership is between police and the Agency for Community Treatment Services (ACTS), which helps people with substance abuse and mental health problems.

The agency said mental health calls are on the rise. In 2020, they answered more than 5,000 calls to assist with people dealing with mental health problems.

The initiative is part of Mayor Jane Castor’s 17 ideas to improve relations between police and the community, a plan released last year.

“This is definitely different from sitting behind a desk. This is out in the field, boots on the ground,” said Cris Riviere, ACTS’ Chief Operating Officer. “You’re there, you’re out in the field, you’re working to save someone’s life in crisis.”

Tampa police need counselors now. You can apply here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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