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Fischer announces pilot program for crisis intervention team to answer some 911 calls

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:22 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A call to 911 in parts of Louisville may soon put the caller in touch with a mental health professional.

Mayor Greg Fischer announced a new pilot program Wednesday that would hire crisis intervention experts to respond to some 911 calls. The program was created in partnership with the University of Louisville’s Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky and Seven Counties Services to focus on “problem-solving, de-escalation and referral to appropriate community services.”

To start, the program will be limited to crisis intervention 911 calls from Louisville Metro Police’s Fourth Division, which a UofL report shows has fielded roughly 20 percent of the department’s 40,000 crisis intervention calls in the past two years.

The $5 million for the project comes from Louisville’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget, to create:

  • A Behavioral Health Hub, with health crisis interventionists integrated in the MetroSafe 911 call center. Call takers would direct certain crisis intervention calls to a trained interventionist, who would help further triage the crisis to determine whether it could be de-escalated over the phone, if the person in crisis would benefit from a mobile response, or if the scenario called for an LMPD response due to safety concerns. Their mission would be “to assist persons in crisis and first responders by providing empathy, connection, de-escalation, and linkage to the right-sized care,” the report says.
  • A mobile response unit consisting of trained crisis interventionists to “rapidly respond, effectively screen and assist persons in crisis in accessing the appropriate level of care.”
  • A 24-hour “community respite center,” a fully-staffed safe place where individuals can stay for up to 24 hours when connected by the mobile response team. There, qualified mental health and substance use professionals will provide evaluations and connect individuals to needed services and resources, beyond what the mobile response team can provide onsite.

“As a patrol sergeant, I also need to be out there responding to your shootings, and your stabbings, and your domestics and all of those others things,” LMPD Fourth Division Sergeant Pam Oberhausen said. ”So that would be invaluable to me, as a supervisor, as a CIT officer, and more importantly, and most importantly, to that person to get set up with resources from someone in the mental health field.”

Deanna Fisk, a Fourth Division patrol officer, told WAVE 3 News the extra help in the field could be a major help to both the person in distress and the officers who are often dispatched to help them.

“Having help on scene is great, because we have those additional resources,” Fisk said. “And they’re going to know more resources than I’m going to know, because law enforcement is what I do, and they strictly do mental health. So they’re going to have more resources, different angles, and like how you said, a different set of eyes. So we’re going to have another perception of things.”

The goal is to start the program around December 1st and monitor its success for a potential expansion in 2022.

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