When 28,000 Alabamians lost mental health care, police were expected to pick up the slack. Sgt. Blalock rose to the challenge.

Sgt. Shane Blalock began his policing career with the Hamilton Police Department and has spent the last 18 years with the Florence PD in Alabama. For the last six years, he's been the coordinator of the community mental health officer program.

Mikayla Hellwich: Why did you join law enforcement? 

Sgt. Shane Blalock: It's always interested me. My father worked for the Birmingham police department and I have several relatives that used to be in law enforcement. It suited me and fit well, and after I got into it, I knew it was what I was made to do. In the last year, I've been looking all over for any available resources, anything where we can gain more knowledge, get more tactics, more training. Someone referred me to LEAP when I was looking at the Step-Up Initiative.

What made you interested in mental health issues, and why did you start working as a coordinator for your diversion program?

It started before I was in law enforcement. My mother actually taught special ed. my entir…