Aurora-Marionville Police Department adds mental health officer to staff

Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 12:20 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2022 at 4:21 PM CDT
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AURORA, Mo. (KY3) - A police department in the Ozarks addresses mental health issues in its community.

The Aurora-Marionville Police Department added a mental health officer to the staff. The officer works directly with the Clark Community Mental Health Center in Monett. Police Chief Wes Coatney said mental health is at the forefront of the community. The department wanted to get ahead of these issues before someone hurt themselves.

Chief Coatney said he wants to offer people a chance for change to show real growth in the community. The goal is to save lives.

“You got to be creative, and you got to kind of be at the top of your game, to make sure that you’re paying attention to trends,” said Chief Coatney. “If we’re not if we’re not paying attention to the mental health aspect of crime, we aren’t paying attention to the full picture.”

Coatney said sometimes you don’t know what’s happening in someone’s head.

“You never really know what battles people are fighting,” said Chief Coatney.

Chief Coatney said he decided it was time for a change.

“We forget the crime prevention is also one of our responsibilities,” said Coatney. You got to be creative, and you got to kind of be at the top of your game, to make sure that you’re paying attention to trends.”

Coatney said he wants to give people any help they need before they might potentially commit a crime and face jail time.

“I want us to be able to say, we contacted this person, we did everything we could for this person, we offered them services,” said Coatney.

Stephanie Appleby, Executive Director for NAMI of Southwest Missouri, said having an officer who knows how to help in these situations can save a life.

“That officer was able to make contact with that individual and help them identify the barriers we work together with law enforcement to find a solution,” said Appleby.

Chief Coatney said they are there to help.

“If we can get them connected to those services before the criminal conviction, then that just hopefully helps them become a more productive member of society without that felony conviction,” said Coatney.

Chief Coatney said all you must do is reach out, and they will do everything they can to try and help you so you can grow. You can contact the Aurora-Marionville Police Department by calling (417) 678-5025.

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