The Lake County Crisis Outreach and Support Team conducts a mental health follow-up in an undated photo. | Provided Photo

A team consisting of multiple Lake County police departments and social workers helping with crisis outreach has hit a “major milestone” by reaching its 5,000th request for service.

The Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COaST) hit the milestone last month, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Since the inception of the program in 2018, COaST has received over 5,000 referrals to the program stemming from law enforcement mental health-related calls for service.

The team initially began with only the sheriff’s office but became a multi-agency team in January 2022.

The team consists of members from the Gurnee Police Department, Lake Forest Police Department, Libertyville Police Department, Lincolnshire Police Department, Mundelein Police Department, Vernon Hills Police Department, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Independence Center and the Living Room Wellness Center.

A police officer from one of the local agencies and a sheriff’s deputy from the sheriff’s office partner with a social worker, clinician or peer specialist to respond to mental health-related calls.

“One of the biggest benefits from COaST we have seen firsthand was the positive impact on the families of those individuals in crisis. Today, the COaSt team has been able to provide significant support and services to parents, children, and other family members impacted by the crisis,” Lincolnshire Chief of Police Joseph Leonas said.

[Suggested Article]  2 transported to hospital after motorcycle crashes into SUV at high speed in Antioch

“We make sure that family members don’t feel overwhelmed or forgotten about as we address the needs of their loved one. These situations are unique challenges that families face every day, and we never want to forget about the inevitable and profound ripple effects these events have on everyone,” Leonas said.

The team has responded to dozens of mental health calls in progress since COaST became a multi-agency team in early 2022, Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said.

“This allowed trained professionals to deploy at the scene, spend as much time as necessary with the person in crisis, and allow the first-responding deputies/police officers to return to emergency calls for service,” Covelli said.

When a sheriff’s deputy or police officer of a member agency responds to a call where they believe someone could benefit from the services of COaST, they submit a referral to COaST.

[Suggested Article]  OSHA opens investigation, coroner identifies solar panel installer who died after falling from roof in Gurnee

When COaST is not responding to mental health calls in progress, they follow up with the law enforcement referrals by contacting the person in an effort to offer and provide services, Covelli said.

COaST has been able to make successful connections and offer services to over 3,700 people, or 74% of those referred, since its inception.

“The Gurnee Police Department is profoundly honored, and humbled to have been a part of the COaST program since its inception nearly two years ago. The positive impact made within our communities has been highlighted through professional interactions with individuals and families in crisis,” Gurnee Chief of Police Brian Smith said.

“Our participation with COaST has allowed us to provide access to valuable resources available throughout Lake County. As we reflect on this accomplishment, we are more determined than ever to continue our participation in the program, extending our commitment to the well-being of our community members,” Smith said.

[Suggested Article]  Attorney claims accused drug dealer's right to fair trial impacted after McHenry County arrest videos go viral on TikTok

Covelli said the program is seeking to grow beyond just the seven agencies involved currently to make sure all residents across the county are covered.

Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg recently worked with county administration leadership to reallocate a vacant sheriff’s office position into a mobile crisis responder position to continue growing the team.

“Over the last five years, we have drastically changed the way we respond to mental health crisis calls and the results we have seen from this collaboration are nothing short of incredible and inspiring,” Idleburg said.

“This team is making a tremendously positive impact on the community. We are grateful for the alliance with our law enforcement partner agencies, the Living Room Wellness Center, and MacArthur Foundation,” Idleburg added.

Vernon Hills Chief of Police Patrick Kreis said his officers rely on their partnership with COaST to provide an “invaluable resource” in assisting community members.

“We are hopeful that continued collective success leads to expansion of this service,” Kreis said.