BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Since opening its doors in February, The Bridge Center for Hope has seen more than 1,000 people come in for mental health treatment.

In today’s climate, we’ve seen how a 911 call could either help or harm mental health patients when the police arrive at their homes. The Bridge Center’s mission is to act as a diversion for those individuals.

Those uneasy encounters involving people suffering from mental health emergencies with police are why Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul is relying on other resources.

“Improving community-police relations and where we should be moving forward,” said Paul.

Executive Director for The Bridge City for Hope Charlotte Claiborne said their nonprofit is a crisis receiving facility.

“We’re designed to provide crisis stabilization for anyone that’s having a mental health or substance use challenge,” said Claiborne.

Through a partnership with BRPD, police are able to get the proper training to better understand a person’s mental state.

“What we do with them is we provide education not only through meeting with their supervisors to make sure we field any questions and concerns that they have, but we also provide training with their CIT which is their crisis intervention training. All new cadets have to go through that training,” said Claiborne.

The facility offers multiple programs including psychiatric evaluation and crisis stabilization.

  • 23-hour crisis stabilization unit
  • 16-bed center-based respite unit
  • 16-bed short-term psychiatric unit
  • Mobile response team
  • Care management team
  • 16-bed substance use detoxification unit

“When someone comes to the facility, they are immediately seen and assessed at that moment because they are in the middle of a crisis now,” said Claiborne.

Chief Paul said these are the things that help them better serve the community.

“When we begin to break down those barriers in community-police relations, then it’s those same community members who help us identify who those back actors are,” said Paul.

“When we encounter people we want them to have a place to go where they can receive services and not be carted off to jail, not to go sit in a waiting room hours on time to seek services,” said Claiborne.