LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville leaders are reimagining how dispatchers handle your emergency 911 call. Under a new pilot program, the response may not even involve the police for certain types of emergencies.
What You Need To Know
- Under a "Pilot 911 Call Prioritization Program," mental health professionals could respond to certain 911 calls
- Councilman Piagentini said offloading some responsibilities from police officers could create better emergency situation outcomes
- Some of the details still being determined include how to dispatch the mental health experts
- Final details of the plan are set to be presented in June
On Thursday afternoon, Metro Council members heard details on why some UofL School of Public Health professors feel there should be more types of people considered to work as first responders. Under a current "Pilot 911 Call Prioritization Program," mental health professionals like social workers could respond to calls. Over the next four to five months, a team will work out the details at the cost of about $231k.
It's part of police reform, which has been in high demand since the death of Breonna Taylor last March. Calls for change were heightened with continued protests over the summer.
Councilman Anthony Piagentini (R, District 19) said that offloading some responsibilities from police officers could create better emergency situation outcomes.
"I was speaking to an officer in the 8th Division just recently," said Piagentini, "saying he's been dispatched to calls very recently, saying he's not the best person to be there...and you know, we're asking these LMPD officers to be supermen and women and handle every issue under the sun. When to your point, I think we need to explore, you know, who else could more appropriately be dispatched."
"It's our belief that if you get different responders out there, you can get people to the needed resources much more quickly and probably produce better outcomes in a more efficient manner, freeing-up more police time to deal with the more at-risk high intensity sorts of things," said UofL School of Public Health and Information Science Professor Dr. Craig Blakely. He's part of the team coordinating the new emergency program.
Some of the details still being determined include how to dispatch the mental health experts. Emergency calls could either be dispatched directly to these individuals, or they could work alongside police, explained Public Safety Chief Amy Hess.
"The biggest points of discussion over the past months has been whether this should be a co-responder model," Hess said, "and a co-responder model would be one where we have a social worker embedded within the police department who actually are employees of the police department and would be dispatched at the same time as the police department."
The other option, she explained, would be "a deflection model which is separate and apart from the police department."
There would also likely need to be some training for dispatchers, on how to designate the phone calls. Final details of the plan are set to be presented in June, coinciding with budget talks.