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Clinician-led response team begins to respond to mental health crises without police

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Indianapolis’ new Clinician-Led Community Response Pilot Program has been responding to mental health crises since July 1.

The team consists of clinicians and peer specialists – no police officers. They are dispatched to people in crisis who call 911.

RELATED: City announced mental health crisis response team

Dispatchers have been trained to triage 911 calls to identify if the CLCR team is the appropriate team to send. If there is a public safety threat, then the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department or the Mobile Crisis Assistance Team – a crisis response unit which includes a police officer – will be sent instead.

The pilot program was granted $2 million in funding last year. Currently, the program only operates in the city’s downtown district, but will expand to the east side district. The team operates from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, with hopes to extend the hours.

The team can connect people with mental health resources, and transport them to a hospital or treatment center, such as the city’s Assessment and Intervention Center at the Community Justice Campus.

“This team can divert health problems away from incarceration and into effective treatment,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.

Andrea Brown is the director of operations for Stepping Stone Therapy Center, which is responsible for managing the response teams. She says the initiative will improve safety and wellbeing in the city.

“Recognizing the significance of mental health in the broader context of public safety is a progressive step in addressing the root causes of crime, violence and community unrest,” she said.

Community members have called for a team that doesn’t include police for years. Calls for change increased following the in-custody death of Herman Whitfield III last year.

Contact WFYI criminal justice reporter Katrina Pross at kpross@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @katrina_pross.

Pross is a Corps Member of Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.

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