MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile Police Department is improving its response to mental health crises by training sworn officers to effectively use mental health intervention and de-escalation techniques, according to a department news release. The department’s Office of Strategic Initiatives is closely collaborating with AltaPointe’s Behavioral Health Crisis Center for training.

MPD said officers are usually called first when there is a mental health issue and can help to calm the situation. Next month seven MPD officers will travel to Houston, Texas, to receive training and become certified mental health trainers. Once certified they too will be able to train other officers.

A pilot program is being set up, using grant money, that would dispatch a co-response team in the Third Precinct. An officer and a mental health clinician will be paired together to respond to mental health crisis calls. The pairs will work to prevent individuals from going to jail and seek treatment.