Aurora and Marionville Police Departments add mental health liaison to their forces

AURORA, Mo. – Aurora and Marionville Chief of Police Wes Coatney has hand-picked a mental health liaison for his two conjoined police departments. 

Officer Alexandria Raymundo will serve as the new mental health liaison for the Aurora and Marionville police departments, and will help those with mental illness get connected to the necessary services.

Raymundo will still fill her role as a regular patrol officer, but wants to help those with mental health issues before they unknowingly or unintentionally commit any crimes. 

Chief Coatney told The Heartlander the justice system typically refers those who need it to mental health treatment facilities or addiction counseling only after they commit serious crimes. Thus, the chief felt his departments were missing an opportunity to get people connected to services before they became criminals of any sort.

“When I came here and when we got our staffing situated, we started looking at how we are delivering services,” Coatney said. “The idea of having a mental health liaison that can serve as an in-between seemed attractive to me because that is something often handled post-conviction.”

After first coming to the area, Coatney noticed a high number of referrals to the Clark Community Mental Health Center and addiction facilities in the region. He then began closely observing his current officers to see which one could jump into the role of mental health liaison. 

Coatney noticed Raymundo had made well-documented referrals with abundant information and was able to clearly discern mental health issues from her interactions with locals.

“It is important that I have somebody in that role who doesn’t look at these things as a judgment but rather as an opportunity to get them in touch with folks who can help them prior to getting forced into the correctional system,” he said. 

Officer Raymundo says she has already seen positive results from her new role at the department.

“There are times people don’t want to talk to law enforcement because they think they are gonna get in trouble and go to jail,” Raymundo said. “After I’ve been able to talk to these people and build rapport with them, they’ll willingly come up and talk to me instead of running the other way. 

“I want people to know I’m here to help them. I’m not here to just arrest people. I primarily want people to know that I don’t think everyone is a bad person. I want them to feel comfortable and come to talk to me when they know they need help.”

Chief Coatney and Officer Raymundo say they have received a great amount of positive feedback from the public, and will stay proactive when it comes to the public and mental health issues.

The police departments serve just over 10,000 people in southwest Missouri.

About The Author

Get News, the way it was meant to be:

Fair. Factual. Trustworthy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.