As the Chapel Hill Police Department's Crisis Unit nears its 50th anniversary this year, it has continued to change and grow to keep up with the needs of residents in Chapel Hill.
The unit's role is to provide support and help for people in crisis situations, including domestic violence and mental health issues.
Crisis Unit Supervisor Sarah Belcher said five crisis counselors respond to calls to the Crisis Unit phone number as well as with police officers to respond on the scene. The unit's number is 919-968-2806.
“Whatever an individual perceives to be a crisis is what we will provide some support and response around,” Belcher said.
Most recently, in October, the Crisis Unit added a new position for a crisis counselor specifically geared toward the Chapel Hill Transit system.
“Chapel Hill has a free bus system and this is something that a lot of our community members take regular use of,” Belcher said. “I think transit does have a large variety of community members that use that resource, and it was identified that it could be good to have some additional support available to respond to things that could come up in those areas.”
Troy Manns, the crisis counselor hired for the job, said his role in transit spaces is to build relationships with community members who may need assistance to feel comfortable with reaching out for help. This includes the Town’s unhoused population — Manns helps provide resources they may need.
“I feel like I'm a bridge to those individuals and they feel very comfortable talking to me, and that opens the door for them to be able to get the help that they need,” he said. “That's a major part of somebody's life. Changing is being comfortable with the resources that are there for them and feeling alright with talking to someone.”
In June, the Crisis Unit also hired a peer support specialist, another position that is meant to make community members more comfortable with understanding and navigating their crises.