New Orleans, LA

New Orleans City Council unanimously agrees on establishing a non-police Crisis Response and Intervention Team

Pierre St-Jean

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NEW ORLEANS, LA — The New Orleans City Council announced on June 3 that it has begun the process of establishing a non-police Crisis Response and Intervention Team to help people in mental health crises.

The New Orleans Police Department currently handles thousands of mental health calls every year, while other cities are now transitioning to relying more on mental health professionals to respond to these cases instead of police.

“This resolution is about best serving people in mental health crises and also best utilizing our public safety resources,” said Council President Moreno. “We need to better address the immediate needs stemming from calls for crisis intervention with appropriate mental and clinical support. And it has become critical that we ensure NOPD can prioritize their time on reducing and preventing violent crime. I look forward to working with the Health Department, City Public Safety agencies, and the community to establish this critical service for our city.”

The council unanimously approved the resolution. It will require a task force to be formed to establish the New Orleans response model. Other cities have already started using this type of intervention to lighten the burden on public safety resources and better respond to those in mental health crises. Atlanta, Los Angeles, Denver and others have all started to save millions of dollars annually in the law enforcement budget.

"Mental health issues are not criminal,'' council member Banks said. "Someone in a mental health crisis is in need of medical attention just the same as someone having a heart attack. The most effective way to handle both is with medical professionals, not police. We have to remove the stigma of mental health and embrace it as a medical issue, not a criminal one."

Following this resolution, the Council President will next formalize a task force to develop a policy framework and strategy, including stakeholders, public safety agencies and community advocates.

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