City of Orlando Will Send Mental Health Workers to Some 911 Calls
To alleviate some of the strain placed on emergency responders and improve crisis response, the City of Orlando is rolling out a plan to send mental health workers to respond to certain emergency situations. The idea is to have responders specially trained to deal with mental health crises help these people rather than sending police to deal with matters for which they may not be trained. This program has been proposed by the Orlando Police Department in conjunction with Aspire Health Partners and could mirror the successes of similar programs in Denver, Los Angeles and Albuquerque.
The city hopes that this will improve quality of care for people in these situations, and build trust with emergency responders and communities. While the police academy prepares officers for a variety of situations, they are burdened with a huge set of responsibilities and sending in special mental healthcare teams can improve outcomes of certain 911 calls for both private citizens and emergency responders.
What Types of 911 Calls Will They Answer?
While certain violent or criminal situations will always require police response, there is a range of problems that could be dealt with aptly by trained mental health professionals. Techniques of de-escalation and treatment can go a long way towards dealing with many crisis situations that emergency responders see on a daily basis.
These professionals can answer calls relating to mental breakdowns, substance abuse issues, and suicide attempts and can also service the homeless communities that are disproportionately affected by mental health problems. These teams will not be sent out alone if persons involved are violent, have a history of violence, or if weapons are present. If a person is posing a threat to the community, police presence is needed, but cooperation between police and mental healthcare providers can result in much better outcomes for everyone involved.
Who Will be on These Crisis Teams?
Aspire Health Partners is the healthcare group leading this initiative, and they plan to send teams of two out on calls. The teams will consist of one licensed clinician who is experienced in dealing with patients to handle the medical side of things, along with a case worker who specializes in social work and rehabilitation.
These duos will be able to provide multifaceted mental health care to people in need and can pose an easier face of emergency response. The presence of police can provide much needed security in many cases, but people in crisis can also be escalated by a badge and a gun and the implied threat of legal punishment. Crisis workers will focus on patient-centric solutions to problems but will always carry police radios in case a situation gets out of hand.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said “This is an opportunity for us to potentially put the experts who can provide the best help, guidance to handle a situation” and added that he sees this as a way to spread the load placed on police in their daily routines.
This one-year pilot program has many supporters, but others in the community are concerned for the safety of said workers and the effectiveness of such a response. With successes to model on popping up around the country, time will tell how it will impact Orlando, but optimism is high.
Contact Trusted Attorneys in Orlando, Florida
Mental health crises can at times escalate into situations that may result in criminal charges. If you or a loved one is dealing with such a case, reach out to the Umansky Law Firm for help. It is our belief that everyone deserves a second chance, and that your life does not have to be defined by a single mistake.
At The Umansky Law Firm, our team has more than 100 years of combined experience fighting to preserve the rights of those who face the criminal justice system. To get started on your road to justice, call our office or fill out a contact form on our website.