REFORMING RESPONSES TO MINNEAPOLIS 911 CALLS
Much is happening to reform 911 responses, especially with regard to mental health calls.
The City Coordinator’s office formed a 911/MPD Workgroup made up of representatives from the community, MPD, 911, MFD, the Office of Violence Prevention and the City Attorney’s Office. On November 5, 2020 they published their Final Recommendations. For this 73-page report, over 8,000 survey responses were analyzed. The Workgroup recommended four pilot programs to address mental health and non-emergency calls to 911.
In December 2020, the Office of Performance and Innovation further refined the pilot programs, and the City funded the four programs on January 26, 2021.
The Four New Pilot Response Programs in Minneapolis
Pilot 1 – Use mobile mental health crisis/EMT response teams
Non-police response teams will respond to emergency mental health crisis calls. These teams will include mental health providers and may include medical professionals.
The Program goals:
- Provide an alternative to police for people having mental health crises
- Allow the responder to assess needs and provide care and support
- Avoid unneeded hospitalization or criminal charges
Pilot 2 – Train 911 dispatch to assess mental health calls
Some 911 call takers, dispatchers and supervisors will receive mental health dispatch training. Their experience will be evaluated before training given to all responders.
- Give 911 call takers tools they need to assess mental health calls
- Dispatch calls to the best response team
- Provide responders with high quality information on mental health and behavioral issues
Pilot 3 – Embed mental health professionals in 911 call centers
Two mental health professionals will work with call takers and dispatchers to:
- Improve mental health triage
- Divert calls from the police department
- Identify the best response for mental health calls
- Divert 911 mental health calls from police response
- Identify appropriate resources for the person in crisis
- Provide improved triage on a broader scale
Pilot 4 – Train non-police City staff to take theft and property damage reports and collect evidence
City employees will take theft and property damage reports from Minneapolis residents:
- Employees will be non-sworn officers.
- This responsibility could fall under an existing position or be part of a new position.
- Provide an in-person response option for theft and property damage reports
- Free police department time
2021 Timeline for Minneapolis Pilot Programs
Jan. – April 2021 Planning phase
April – Sept. 2021 Pilot phase
Sept. – Oct. 2021 Analysis phase
Nov. 2021 Report to City Council
Hennepin County Initiative
On December 15, 2020, the Hennepin County Board passed a resolution establishing a 911/Mental Health Task Force – a group that will create a plan for responding to mental health requests identified through public safety partners. The task force will include people with professional experience with dispatch, law enforcement and mental health, in addition to people with personal experience with mental illness. The subcommittee will research best practice approaches and national models for responding to mental health needs identified through public safety.
The 2021 Legislative session has seen two bills introduced in the House (HF515) and Senate (SF 565) that would establish a “911 Telecommunicator Working Group” to start in August of 2021 to create standards of training and certification for 911 dispatchers across the state. The bills have been introduced in committee and have not yet made it to the floor.
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