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DeFazio, Taets work as Community Mental Health Officers on MPD force

MADISON – Shannon DeFazio and Bryce Taets are now working as Community Mental Health Officers with Madison Police Department. Their primary goal is distinguishing if an arrestee will benefit more from hospitalization or incarceration, both possibly resulting in mental health treatment.

DeFazio was interested in this work after seeing the increase in citizens with mental health crises. “Many people live with mental health issues and are unaware of the resources our community has,” she said. “I’ll work closely with other CMHOs (and) patrol duties.”

Madison has 14 Crisis Intervention Team or CIT Officers trained to recognize a citizen experiencing a mental health crisis. “A CIT Officer or another Patrol Officer will contact me with an immediate need for intervention. As a CMHO, I determine if the person in crisis is posing an immediate threat to themselves or the community,” DeFazio said.

“CIT officers and I follow up with the arrestee, family members, court officials and mental health staff to solve the existing crisis and hopefully prevent future crisis from occurring,” DeFazio said.

After growing up near the beach, DeFazio enjoys surfing and most board sports. “I also stay healthy by lifting weights, running and often teaching yoga,” she said.

Taets was interested in CMHO work “to assist Madison citizens and truly show the love for mental health. Three years ago, Chief Jernigan implemented a Crisis Intervention Team; I was the second Patrol Officer to become certified as a Crisis Intervention Officer with Detective Stacy Thomas.”

Taets’ CMHO work “makes a difference for the community in mental health (and) assists citizens in need. We closely work (with) Thomas and Assistant Probate Judge Barger,” Taets said.

After high school, Taets worked with Don Koch in the police department’s Animal Control. After two years, he transferred to Patrol and completed Police Academy and Field Training. He transferred to Resource Officer for Liberty Middle School and soon will transfer to James Clemens High School.

He assists other Crisis Intervention Officers with involuntary committals. “If an officer knows the subject has committed a crime and suffers from a mental illness, we have resources to further assist with a treatment program. If an involuntary committal is needed, we work with Judge Barger and staff closely for treatment with Wellstone Behavioral Health,” Taets said.

His wife Elizabeth works as head receptionist for Whitworth Animal Clinic. Bryce and Elizabeth’s son Bryson is two years old. They live in Ardmore.

Elizabeth and Bryce show walking/racking horses and always have been around the farm and rodeoing. “It’s my fallback to my other hobby of racing off-road RC cars with my brother, Sergeant Weston Taets, who also works for MPD,” Bryce said.

Taets thanked Thomas for mentoring him early in his police career. “Det. Thomas provided me with everything I need to be effective in my career and pushing me to that next step.”

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