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WHO COMES WHEN I CALL 911? HOW ABOUT 988?
The Minneapolis average for 911 calls is 1,000 police, fire and ambulance calls per day. Police calls with threats to life or property are handled first followed by calls with more stable situations. For example, loud noise complaints may have to wait.
911 operations are managed by the Minneapolis Emergency Communications Center (MECC) , a department under the city coordinator and separate from the police department. However if the proposed Office of Community Safety is enacted, Minneapolis 911 will be under their control. Currently, MECC is part of Hennepin County’s 911 system governed by the State of Minnesota and state statute. MECC is further governed by a regional agency, the Metropolitan Services Board. There are eight separate 911 systems in Hennepin County: MECC, Hennepin County Sheriff, Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina, St. Louis Park, Minneapolis St. Paul Airport, and the University of Minnesota.
MECC hires, trains and handles all 911 calls (Police, Fire, and EMS) for the city. Medical calls are transferred to either Hennepin Healthcare or North Memorial for ambulance service. Police and fire calls are handed off to the appropriate agencies.
Mental Health – Behavioral Crisis Response
Much is happening to reform 911 responses, especially with regard to mental health calls. Currently the City of Minneapolis is evaluating several Emergency Response Pilot Programs that seek to change the way 911 responds to these calls. The city is using personnel from Canopy Health to respond to behavioral health calls that do not warrant police presence. If you need to report a mental health crisis (What to do - Report a Behavioral or Mental Health Crisis) you can call 911. If the call meets the criteria below, a team from Canopy may be dispatched instead of the police:
- Seems to be a behavioral or mental health crisis
- No weapon involved
- No physical violence has occurred/is occurring
- No medical emergency
- Drugs/alcohol are not escalating the situation
- No police request
Parking Issues, Theft Reports, Damage to Property – Call 311 – File On Line
In June 2021, 911 began transferring a selection of police reports to 311, including:
- Theft (report-only)
- Property damage (report-only)
- Parking/traffic complaints
Currently this pilot program has seen increased numbers of reports and efficiency, but the evaluation and rollout city wide is ongoing.
See also: Minn Post Article - Will Minneapolis Alternative Policing Pilots Become Permanent?, August 22, 2022.
The 2021 Legislative Session established a “911 Telecommunicator Working Group” (Sec.47) to create standards of training and certification for 911 dispatchers across the state. They issued their report in January 2022. The report recommended a definition of a PST (Public Safety Telecommunication), minimum standards of training and certification, and further legislation to address these issues.
988 – What is it and when should I call for a trained crisis counselor response?
Suicide is a serious and growing public health concern across the United States and in Minnesota. The number of suicide deaths and the suicide rate in Minnesota has increased consistently for 20 years. On July 14, 2022 Minnesota joined other states to roll out the nationwide 988 mental health crisis lifeline. The lifeline includes easy access, an online chat feature, and new texting option.
The new 988 dialing code will serve as a universal entry point, so people can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help regardless of where they live. Anyone can dial or text 988 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to reach crisis support or to use an online chat feature to connect with crisis support. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
Lifeline is a national network of over 200 call centers. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Health, Minnesota has four Lifeline centers that connect callers to nearby or state-specific resources and services quickly and efficiently. Minnesota calls may be routed to the Lifeline’s national back-up centers when the four call centers are at capacity. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has several back-up centers that answer the overflow of calls from across the country.
The rollout and future funding of 988 has been questioned, but it is still a valued resource for many.
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Blog post August 22, 2022
988 is an important resource for suicide prevention – if it has the local infrastructure in place to support it, MinnPost, August 26, 2022