She may not wear a badge or uniform, but Amanda Terwey starts her day alongside members of the Coon Rapids Police Department as an embedded mental health professional.
While on-duty, Terwey is partnered with a police officer and responds to calls involving mental health, substance use and homelessness. She also follows up on calls that happen during other shifts.
“We found that the best way to engage with people is at the time of crisis,” Terwey said.
The position, which is split between the Coon Rapids Police Department and the Blaine Police Department, is the first of its kind in Anoka County and is funded by a two year grant. Terwey is employed by the nonprofit People Incorporated, a longtime community-based provider of mental health services.
“Part of what I enjoy about this position is it really gives an opportunity for timely access to services,” Terwey said. “People sometimes don’t access resources because they’re not aware of them or they don’t know how to engage with them.”
“Probably the biggest thing she brings is passion,” said Coon Rapids Police Captain Bill Steiner. “We’ve had a number of really great success stories.”
Steiner says Terwey’s ability to navigate the system and utilize resources is a real asset as 911 calls related to mental health continue to grow each year. He says officers on the streets have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the partnership.
“The most consistent ask of the officers involved is, ‘Can we have this full-time?,’” Steiner said.
Officer Dan Freiberg agrees. “I absolutely support the program. Officers are learning it’s very helpful and the program does need to continue. It’s another tool in the toolbox.”
As the position continues to evolve, one thing is already clear. “Everyone benefits when mental health is effectively recognized, understood and treated,” Terwey said.