JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) Police and Public Safety Department’s behavioral response team, which started being tested in February, has been implemented as a full-time, permanent fixture.

Leaders with UMMC said the team has been successful at de-escalating potentially violent situations.

The rapid response unit, which responds to panic alarms and disruptive patient emergencies – also known as code white — was designed to reduce the number of workplace violence incidents and injuries to patients, employees, students and visitors.

Dressed in plain clothes with a weapon, badge and ID clipped to their belts, the four officers, working in shifts of two, intervene to de-escalate situations that might otherwise become violent enough to require an arrest or hospitalization.

During the 30-day pilot, the team of two, at the time, responded to more than 100 calls. When the pilot was over, the calls kept coming, helping to solidify its success.

Police Chief Mary Paradis said she is grateful institutional leadership approved the request to fund the unit, effective July 25.

“In today’s world, law enforcement is routinely called to respond to folks who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis, and UMMC is not immune,” said Paradis. “Through empathy and community policing, we will be able to better protect our fellow UMMC staff and visitors.”

The officers, who undergo crisis intervention training through Hinds Behavioral Health Services, patrol the entire Medical Center while on shift. The BRT officers work a rotating schedule of 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily, including weekends.

Non-emergency calls for the BRT should be made to 601-984-1360. For emergencies, call 601-815-7777.