Chicago mental health professionals will be dispatched on 911 calls instead of cops

by Daily Mail



  • The city is launching a two-part 'alternative response' pilot program this fall that takes a more public health approach to responding to mental health 911 calls

  • A mental health professional and a paramedic will be dispatched to mental health-related calls instead of police officers

  • Mental health professionals will also be stationed inside 911 call centers and, from October, will be responding to some 911 calls by phone

  • The initiatives aim to both ensure people suffering a mental health crisis get the help they need rather than jailed and free police up for tackling crime

  • It comes amid a mass exodus of cops from Chicago PD with 363 officers retiring between January and June this year - higher than the whole of 2018

  • Defund the police protests following George Floyd's murder have left only around 13,000 cops remaining while some crimes have surged

  • More than 100 people were shot and at least 17 killed over July 4 weekend alone, while shootings have spiked 11% so far this year


Mental health professionals will be sent out to respond to some 911 calls in Chicago instead of cops, following defund the police protests and a number of police killings of mentally-unwell people.


The city is launching a two-part 'alternative response' pilot program this fall that takes a more public health approach to responding to 911 calls for mental health emergencies.

The initiatives aim to both ensure people suffering a mental health crisis get the help they need rather than face criminalization and free police up for tackling crime, amid a mass exodus of cops from the force.

A total of 363 officers retired from the Chicago Police Department between January and June this year, with another 56 on track to quit in July, according to figures from the police pension board.

If the trend continues, the mass departure will even dwarf the 560 retirements last year, when swathes of officers quit amid protests over the police murder of George Floyd and demands to defund the police.

With only around 13,000 cops remaining, Fox News reported that Chicago's 117,000 gang members now outnumber officers by roughly 10 to one, at a time when the Windy City is facing a surge in violent crime.

More than 100 people were shot and at least 17 killed over July 4 weekend alone, while shootings have spiked 11 percent so far in 2021 compared to the same period last year. Mental health professionals will be sent out to respond to some 911 calls in Chicago instead of cops, following defund the police protests and a number of police killings of mentally-unwell people. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

Protesters and Chicago Police clash during protests last summer over George Floyd's murder. Swathes of officers have retired from the force following the protests which called for the defunding of the police


Chicago's new 'alternative response' programs will involve dispatching a team that includes a mental health professional and a paramedic to mental health-related calls, reported Chicago Sun-Times.

One program will involve sending a paramedic and a mental health clinician for 'behavioral health calls.'

A second program will involve sending a paramedic with a 'recovery specialist' for calls relating to substance abuse, the outlet reported.

It is not fully clear how 911 dispatchers will determine which calls should be responded to by police officers or by mental health professionals.

However, the city said mental health professionals will be stationed inside 911 call centers to help monitor situations and, from October, will be responding to some 911 calls by phone.

DailyMail.com has reached out to the Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office and the Chicago Police Department for more information. The landmark program marks the first time 911 calls will not be responded to by police officers in the Windy City.

Ahead of the launch, the city is rolling out two dedicated ambulance teams in August who can respond to calls in 13 neighborhoods that deal with especially high rates of mental health emergencies.

The two teams each include a police officer trained in crisis intervention, a paramedic and a mental health clinician.

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