The city of Columbus is rolling out a four to six week pilot program on Monday that will help determine if 9-1-1 calls require emergency response from police and firefighters or others, such as social workers or clinicians. who are better equipped to deal with mental health or addiction issues.
“For too long and too often we have asked the police to be social workers, doctors,” Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said Friday at a press conference to announce what is called the program. alternative response driver. The event took place at Columbus Public Health, near downtown.
A Columbus paramedic and public health clinician will be integrated with the city’s 9-1-1 call center to help sort out calls and determine whether police and firefighters should answer calls or someone else. other, said Columbus Fire Captain Matt Parrish.
Ginther said it would give police more time to deal with the spike in violent crime in the city, as well as more community policing. Starting Friday, Columbus saw 71 homicides this year.
“All of this helps improve the safety and stability of neighborhoods,” Ginther said.
Community advocacy groups such as Building Responsibility, Equality And Dignity (BREAD) have urged city leaders to consider creating a crisis response system so that trained mental health professionals and social workers can respond to some 911 calls that the police often deal with.
Some wonder if such a system could have altered the outcome of situations such as when police shot and killed Miles Jackson, 27, on April 12 at Mount Carmel St. Ann Medical Center after firing a gun in the emergency department, or when Columbus officer Nicholas Reardon shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant on April 20 when he saw Bryant going after a young woman with a knife.
Data from the pilot program will be analyzed and used to determine next steps, including a new 988 call center for suicide prevention and mental health issues.
Ginther mentioned the new Franklin County Mental Health and Addiction Crisis Center, a 72,000 square foot facility that the Franklin County Mental Health, Alcohol and Drugs Board acquired in the United States. Harmon and Souder avenues. The center would be the place where first responders could receive patients in need of addiction or psychiatric care.
Columbus City Council in April approved the first $ 3 million of a $ 10 million pledge for a new $ 50 million mental health and addiction center in Franklinton. The center is expected to handle around 30,000 meetings in its first year. It is supposed to open in 2024.
Erika Clark Jones, chairman and chief executive officer of the county administration board for alcohol, drugs and mental health (ADAMH), said officials expected a 23% increase in demand for mental health and addiction services over the next decade.
“We are seeing an increased need for crisis care,” she said.
Marian Stuckey, from the Columbus CARE (Community, Action, Resilience and Empowerment) Coalition, said it was important for those dealing with people with mental health or addiction issues to have compassion and empathy. without passing judgment.
“Any response must be in tune with the current crisis,” said Stuckey, who is also director of neighborhood social work for Columbus Public Health.
People often call 911 for reasons other than real emergencies, and Parrish said the system hasn’t evolved to deal with that.
The pilot program will help determine the appropriate level of response, he said.
“Sometimes the best answer may not be two cops and a medic,” said the Columbus Police Commander. Said Dennis Jeffrey.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus pilot program will help determine which 911 calls are emergencies and which are not
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