Mental health professionals paired with paramedics will replace cops on some Chicago 911 calls in a first for Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s troubled city.
The Chicago Times reports in one future pilot program, a paramedic will be dispatched alongside a mental health clinician for “behavioral health calls.”
In another, a paramedic will work with a “recovery specialist” on calls involving substance abuse.
The response restructure comes as Chicago Police pension board figures reveal more cops have left the force so far in 2021 than did in the whole of 2018.
In total, 363 officers retired between January and June compared to 339 in 2018, as crime continues to soar across the city.
The number of homicides and shootings in Chicago spiked dramatically in 2020, ending with more bloodshed than in all but one year in more than two decades, as Breitbart News reported.
The Chicago killing fields yield their gruesome daily harvest. https://t.co/BwIr85OgJe
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) June 20, 2021
After three years of falling homicide totals, 2020 ended with 769 homicides — 274 more than the previous year and the most since the 784 homicides in 2016.
Last year ended with 4,033 shooting victims compared with 2,598 the year before.
Mental health clinicians feel the new arrangements can offset those front line loses and casualties as they will be on hand at the 911 center to monitor situations.
Just how well these new responders will be able to de-escalate violence that can erupt during such calls is yet to be explained or demonstrated.
The Times outlines the new programs underwite a “public health approach” to responding to 911 calls.
“We’re super excited,” said Alex Heaton, Lightfoot’s policy adviser for public safety. “This is a brand new workforce for the city, and it’s an exciting opportunity to use a public health approach for people likely to come in contact with the first responder system.”
How could Joe Biden meet with Lori Lightfoot and not talk about the mountain of dead bodies piling up in Chicago from her failure to lead on cracking down on crime? https://t.co/MMz2XaBUMT
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) July 8, 2021
The teams will start responding to calls in August, with the rollout coming in the wake of a recent visit to the city by President Joe Biden who ignored the blight of gun violence.
The $3.5 million plan — called Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement — was made public in a June 29 meeting of the mayor’s Violence Prevention Planning Committee.
Heaton said he hopes the program will get people the help they need instead of just having them spend time in police custody, according to the Times story.”