INDIANAPOLIS — “I think he gave us hope. I think he helped us to persevere through some difficult times,” says Indianapolis resident Jean Gaunt.
Gaunt’s son was in crisis when she first met IMPD detective David Kuchta-Drane.
“He had become very violent and very difficult to care for,” she says.
Kuchta-Drane responded as part of his job with MCAT, IMPD’s Mobile Crisis Assistance Team.
“I tried to empower their son with resources to try and get control of himself. His immediate reaction at that time, is that the police is going to come there and take him to jail. And I said, "That's not what we want to do. We want to keep you and your family together,” says Kuchta-Drane.
MCAT has been successful at preventing arrests. An IMPD spokesperson claims that 97% of MCAT calls end with no handcuffs. Instead, officers, with the assistance of clinicians from Eskenazi, provide support, access to resources, or even something as simple as a bag of food.
But MCAT has some limitations. There nine teams that operate from 7:30AM – 6PM Monday through Friday.
A group of local religious leaders, Faith in Indiana, wants more. At their Fund Our futures Summit two weeks ago, they asked the mayor to form a clinician-focused emergency mental health response team, one that could operate 24 hours every day and be independent from police.
“We believe that when you call 9-1-1, no matter what the situation is, a gun shows up on the scene, and for individuals who are experiencing mental health crises or substance use crises, we don't believe that a gun showing up on the scene is going to help solve the problem,” says Reverend Dr. Carlos Perkins of the Black Church Coalition, a subset of Faith in Indiana.
Mayor Hogsett is working to create a pilot program that could launch as early as next year. Faith in Indiana says the program wouldn’t replace MCAT, it would just provide more of the services that Hoosiers need.
“We have an awesome opportunity right now to be able to fund a future for our community that will ensure that individuals in our community are able to get the help and support they need,” says Perkins.
In the meantime, MCAT is just a phone call away.
“I would recommend that people who have children or adults who are struggling with mental health issues, to always ask for MCAT,” says Gaunt.