Ann Arbor considers sending unarmed psychological well being consultants to sure 911 calls

Ann Arbor could start sending mental health experts on some 911 calls

Ann Arbor is considering sending unarmed mental health experts on some phone calls instead of the police.

Ann Arbor is considering sending unarmed responders to nonviolent 911 that may require a different approach.

“Here we introduce ourselves to people outside the police force who may respond to emergency calls,” said Mayor Christopher Taylor. “The police are overworked and asked to do things that can best be done by unarmed personnel.”

If a dispatcher determines that a call is non-violent, sending a police officer may not be the best first contact. Scenarios include when someone is having a mental crisis and needs the expertise of a social worker or other mental health professional.

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“Our goal is to ensure that people in a mental health crisis who need human services do not face law enforcement when there is no talk of criminal activity,” said Taylor.

If implemented, unarmed civilians would respond to some emergency calls in Ann Arbor.

Deciding when to send an unarmed person and who to send is important for the implementation of the idea.

“We’re going to be relying on the sheriff’s expertise and putting together a set of protocols to make sure the right people get into the right situation,” said Taylor.

Taylor noted that the cops’ jobs will not change.

“We are not asking in this resolution to remain unarmed. We are trying to expand the provision of mental health services by unarmed professionals if necessary,” he said.

The proposal could be put to a vote at the next city council meeting in the first week of April. Taylor said he is encouraging the public to share their thoughts.

“Call the town clerk via email, voicemail, or public comment and have them put you on the list,” he said.

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