Gwinnett County

Gwinnett police to dramatically expand behavioral health unit

GWINNETT COUNTY — When you call Gwinnett County police for help, you may get more than an officer to respond.

The department told Channel 2′s Tony Thomas that it is expanding its behavioral health unit. The goal is to have a mental health care worker help police talk down people in crisis.

The unit is a year old and is comprised of two officers and two health clinicians at this point. But soon it will boom to 12 and round the clock coverage.

Supporters saying it’s already making a difference.

“Back in February we responded to a man who was up on a roof,” said Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Tracy Reed. “Paj (Mahdavi) was the only one where he said, ‘OK, come up here. I trust you.”

Reed and health clinical social worker Mahdavi ended the crisis peacefully. He points to that situation as a top reason Gwinnett’s behavioral health unit is expanding from two teams to six.


By the end of this month, the unit will be staffed seven days a week, reportedly by far the largest unit in the region.

“I’m hoping it will get more people more treatment and access to care. I hope it will reduce the stigma of mental health,” Mahdavi said.

Over the past year, Reed and Mahdavi have responded to dozens of calls, including the greyhound gunmen situation last March.

Reed said the biggest impact so far is more time for follow ups.

“Because we have more time. When we have an officer respond to a 911 crisis call, they are there to see what can I do to solve this problem right now. They might not be able to spend as much time,” Reed said.

Ultimately, Reed and others hope to get teams based in the 911 call center and potentially even rolling with the fire department on calls.