Gwinnett County Police Behavioral Health Unit responds to crisis calls

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:50 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Tense moments on the roof of a home in Gwinnett County happened this week as an emotionally disturbed man climbed on top of someone’s home and refused to come down.

“I’m not taking you to jail today. None of these officers are taking you to jail today. We want to take you to the hospital,” A Gwinnett County Police Officer told the man.

Police dispatched members of their newly formed Behavioral Health Unit to resolve the situation.

“Uniform officers dealt with this for many hours on end given the safety situation of the officers and the individual up on the roof. They wanted to be very cautious and not use any kind of force to put any of them in danger,” Cpl. Ryan Winderweedle said.

The Behavioral Health Unit de-escalated the situation and convinced the man to come down off the roof without incident.

“The officers in the BHU unit get specialized training outside of what most normal patrol officers would get because their focus is de-escalation,” Winderweedle said.

Gwinnett’s Behavioral Health Unit was formed in 2021 and consists of 6 officers, 6 clinicians, and one supervisor. Last year, the unit responded to 915 crisis calls like this one.

“The goal of this is to successfully de-escalate and get the person the help they need,” Winderweedle said.

In this case, the officer and clinician made sure the man was transported to the hospital for help and intend to follow up on this condition in the coming days.

“They’ve become a very busy unit over the past year,” Winderweedle said.

The Behavioral Health Unit did more than 1,100 follow-ups on individuals with mental health issues last year on top of the crisis calls they handled.