Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

Police could be helped by virtual counselors in crisis calls

PIERRE. S.D. – A shortage of mental health professionals in rural South Dakota could be addressed by having trained counselors remotely assist police officers using readily available technology.

State lawmakers are considering a package of eight bills this year aimed at addressing shortfalls in mental health care.

The Centers for Disease Control says South Dakota has the seventh highest suicide rate in the nation.

In one possible solution, a police officer responding to someone suffering a mental health crisis could use a tablet to make a video call with someone trained in de-escalating mental crises.

The proposal is already being road-tested in Brookings County.

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