Mental health professionals join police in responding to 911 calls

Starting Tuesday, the city of Des Moines is partnering with medical professionals to expand mental health services. The Crisis Advocacy Response Effort or “CARE” program is where mental health professionals at Broadlawns Medical Center work with the Des Moines Police Department to answer and respond to 911 calls. The team of three will be split into two groups. One person is at the dispatch center while the other two will respond on the street. Their job is to help dispatch staff screen mental health calls and determine the level of response needed. “These are trained listeners to really understand, so we need a little patience with that. Sometimes these issues have been escalating for a while, and then at that point they fix the issues,” said Steve Johnson , Broadlawns Government Liaison Officer. Johnson says the goal is to help prevent situations from escalating, but also to reduce police workload. “We’re hoping to go upstream and be able to handle some of these situations that are more preemptively as a community. For us, it’s just really exciting to be a part of that,” Johnson said. Johnson said the inspiration came from Austin, Texas, where there is a similar program in place that has been successful. The service operates seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Broadlawns and the city will assess the program to see if expansion is needed in the future.

Starting Tuesday, the city of Des Moines is partnering with medical professionals to expand mental health services. The Crisis Advocacy Response Effort or “CARE” program is where mental health professionals at Broadlawns Medical Center work with the Des Moines Police Department to respond and respond to 911 calls.

The team of three will be divided into two groups. One person is at the dispatch center while the other two will respond on the street. Their job is to help dispatch staff screen mental health calls and determine the level of response needed.

“These are trained listeners to really understand, so we need a little patience with that. Sometimes these issues have been escalating for a while, and then at that point they fix the issues,” said Steve Johnson , Broadlawns Government Liaison Officer.

Johnson says the goal is to help prevent situations from escalating, but also to reduce police workload.

“We’re hoping to go upstream and be able to handle some of these situations that are more preemptively as a community. For us, it’s just really exciting to be a part of that,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the inspiration came from Austin, Texas, where there is a similar program in place that has been successful. The service operates seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Broadlawns and the city will assess the program to see if expansion is needed in the future.

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