AUBURN, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It can often be a challenge for police to respond to mental health crises. That’s why the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office is giving its deputies the ability to connect patients to a professional right from the scene.

Through a simple Zoom call on an iPad, patrol deputies can now better respond to mental health calls.

“We do have every one of our patrol deputies equip with their own iPad where they can link to mental health crisis services here in our community.”


Depending on the circumstance, patients can be connected to a licensed professional or clinician with the Cayuga County Mental Health Department or Liberty Resources. Currently, the program is available from 8:00 a.m. to midnight.

The goal of the Mobile Access Program (MAP) is to give struggling individuals better access to mental health resources, but it’s also a benefit for the Cayuga County Sheriff’s patrol deputies responding to the uptick in crisis calls.

“For the law enforcement professionals, it really takes the guesswork off of us without being licensed clinicians. We always would have to make that determination if the individual was a harm to themselves or others. Now, we put this in the hands’ of the professional. The last thing that we want to do is show up on a mental health scene and not make the right choice on that. This really takes this burden off of us.”


The program is funded by the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Office of Mental Health.

Other partners include Cayuga County Mental Health, Liberty Resources and the Institute for Police, Mental Health & Community Collaboration.

Sheriff Schenck and Undersheriff Peenstra stress the initial video conference is only the beginning of the treatment plan. After initial response, patients are connected to additional programs and resources, if necessary.

“Really, just being able to connect people and you know through the virtual is huge. Once we make that connection, often times, we end up seeing them in our building eventually and then we can provide ongoing treatment, and it just gets people engaged in the services they need.”


In the event of a serious mental health crisis call where a person could be of harm to themselves or others, iPads are not used. These patients are generally transported to the hospital for further treatment.

If you or a loved one is in need of immediate help, learn more about the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline:

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By calling or texting 988, you will be connected to trained counselors who will listen, give support and connect you to more resources.

The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889.

All calls are confidential. The lifeline is for anyone experiencing emotional distress, not just for individuals thinking about suicide.