City commission approves mental health police program, city manager bonus

Mount Pleasant City Commission Zoom meeting on Oct. 11, 2021.

Mount Pleasant City Commission discussed the implementation of the R.I.S.E. Advocacy police program and approved a bonus for the city manager at its Oct. 11 meeting.

Mental Health Police Program

Commissioners discussed a one-year pilot program that would integrate a mental health professional into the Mount Pleasant Police Department. The program will employ local nonprofit R.I.S.E. Advocacy to hire and manage a full-time mental health responder.

“The important part is the embeddedness of the individual into the police department,” Public Safety Director Paul Lauria said. “We want to get someone that knows how the system works and can see the job through while building relationships with the officers and staff.”

Commissioners praised Lauria for his research into mental health and drug addiction needs in the area. This will be the first program of its kind in the state, Mayor William Joseph said.

“Most of these people are stuck in group homes and I see the same officers at these homes all the time,” Commissioner Petro Tolas said. “Police aren’t counselors or psychologists so this role is something important we need to implement.”

The program calls for the reallocation of police department funds to cover the first trial year of the program. Further costs will be reevaluated in a year based upon the program’s success.

Lauria explained the program’s protocol will allow for a bigger impact than counseling centers. The mental health professional will be available for crisis situations and follow-up.

“CMU’s Counseling Center is just not set up to do this,” Commissioner George Ronan said. “Having a mobile crisis team is a huge lift to the police department and it’s absolutely state of the art.”

The budget reallocation passed 7-0.

City Manager Bonus

The commission rewarded City Manager Nancy Ridley a $7,000 bonus ahead of her retirement. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, bonuses and raises were held off in 2020. Ridley’s upcoming mid-year retirement meant her bonus was at risk. The commission made special efforts to include Ridley.

“Our city manager always says she doesn’t do this for the money and she clearly has a passion for this community and government,” Joseph said. “Her seven years as city manager and 20 years in city government has more than earned her this.”

Commissioner Amy Perschbacher thanked Ridley for her graciousness and praised her ability to answer questions and guide commissioners.

The wage adjustment passed 7-0.

The entire city commission meeting can be viewed on the city commission’s Youtube.