TALLMADGE, Ohio — The city of Tallmadge is leading the way for police reform in Summit County. 

What You Need To Know

  • A new program in Tallmadge is connecting police and mental health professionals via a phone call
  • Officers can call for help 24/7 while responding to a 911 call
  • The goal is to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses who end up in jail

They are doing this through their new pilot program that gives police officers 24/7 access to mental health professionals while responding to a 911 call.  

Tallmadge Patrol Officer Ralph Stover is a crisis intervention team coordinator for Summit County and he is helping to lead the way with this new program.

“Having this resource allows us to consult an actual professional, in real-time, tell them what is going on, and if it is a situation where it is not black and white and obvious, which is where I think this pilot will come into a huge help for us, it will take the decision out of our hands and allow a professional to make that call for us,” Stover said. 

The program is still in its infancy but they are hoping it will reduce the number of people with mental illnesses who end up in jail. 

“I always want to find a better way to help people," Stover said. "I think that this is an avenue and a step in the right direction for us to be able to do that.” 

After officers leave the scene, the help isn’t over.

A team will check in with the person who was having a mental health crisis within a few days. 

“When I first started my role here, which was about a year and a half ago, we would deal with someone in crisis, we would get them to the hospital or mental health facility and that was it," he said. "We would never see them until they were in crisis at their home again.”

By following up, they hope to reduce that cycle.

"Just to surround them with resources, and to develop a good relationship with them and just to make them feel like that whenever the police show up it is not always a bad thing," he said. 

If successful, this program could be expanded across Summit County.