VOORHEESVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The newly created Albany County Crisis Officials Responding and Diverting (ACCORD) program is designed to improve outcomes for nonviolent emergency calls into County dispatch. The initiative is a multi-agency partnership that will team up County social workers and paramedics to provide an appropriate response unit for those in need of assistance, instead of law enforcement.

The ACCORD program consists of two response teams: social workers from the County’s Mobile Crisis Team and paramedics from the Sheriff’s Office. Each team has been trained to handle situations involving mental health and nonviolent emergency cases.

“We are not defunding police in Albany County. What we are doing is raising the discussion around policing and public safety in our communities and taking action to help our law enforcement agencies be better equipped and responsive to the communities they serve,” said Chairman Joyce. “With ACCORD, we will be able to utilize our resources appropriately by having a team specially trained to handle issues of mental health and other non-violent emergencies, which allows our police to focus on what they do best, tackling crime.”

The teams will work on a rotating shift and will be dispatched from the Sheriff’s Office. The first shift, which rolled out on Friday, will handle responses from Monday through Friday. The second team, which starts towards the end of June, will be responding to calls Sunday through Thursday.

The partnership between the Sheriff’s Office and the Mental Health office will require the sharing of resources including staff, records and coordination while deciding when dispatch of the unit is needed. ACCORD would build on the County’s mobile health crisis unit through improved dispatch and the addition of paramedics in many instances.

The Albany County program will start in the Hilltowns and may be expanded to other areas in the County and adjusted to fit local municipalities systems. The County is partnering with the University at Albany who will analyze data collected through ACCORD to create a roadmap for how to scale the program within Albany County and implement it in other municipalities.