ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — It’s been three years since Illinois passed a law funding police departments to hire licensed social workers to accompany officers to certain calls, in an effort to reduce police-involved shootings.

The law requires police officers to bring mental health professionals along to assess if a person is experiencing a mental health crisis and whether the subject should be addressed to a mental health facility instead of jail

The Illinois program grew out of nationwide concerns about police officers’ sometimes fatal use of force in confrontations with mentally unstable persons, and in response to the Black Lives Matter / “Defund the Police” movement following the killing of George Floyd in 2021.

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office formed the Crisis Co-Response Team (CCRT), which partners law enforcement officers with representatives from Rosecrance, a mental health organization.

In 2022, the sheriff’s department had 6,400 interactions with a CCRT member present.

Jason Relle, the director of crisis services for Rosecrance, said, “Substance abuse, mental health, or really behavioral health going on, that’s where CCRT can then really get enacted, to help to build report, trust, engage them in a whole different way, to avoid some of those outcomes, of an individual just going into the [court system],” Relle said. “We want to be that disruptor to the cycle and provide them ongoing care.”

The CCRT is funded by the Winnebago County Mental Health Board. On Monday, the Rockford City Council approved a renewal of the partnership. The Winnebago County Board is expected to vote Thursday to keep the program funded.