Recently, a workgroup formed by the City of Minneapolis created a series of recommendations for alternatives to police response to certain kinds of 911 calls (watch a presentation here at the 1:46:00 mark). The recommendations were informed by conversations with community stakeholders, workshops, and 8,012 responses to public surveys. The surveys focused on mental health emergencies and report-only crimes (non-violent theft, property damage, or parking or traffic issues)
The findings indicated that most people do not feel comfortable reporting mental health calls to the police.
Close to 90% of respondents identified that they’d prefer to be helped by a mental health professional or social worker if they or someone they love is experiencing a mental health crisis.
When it came to nonviolent crimes, more people reported that they did not call the police than those that did call police. When asked why they didn’t call the police, these were the responses:
So what are the recommendations?
The workgroup came up with a series of pilot programs and policy changes to redirect resources from MPD response to alternative response models.
Dispatch Mental Health Professional (MHP) or Emergency Medical Technician teams to mental health crisis calls via 911 when people do not have a weapon or “pose no threat of violence toward others”
Unarmed, dressed down, with a van for transportation of person in crisis if needed
Mental Health training to 911 dispatchers
This would better equip dispatchers to know when a MHP is the appropriate response
Embed Mental Health Professionals in 911
These persons can help when there isn’t a need for an in-person response (similar to a crisis hotline)
Proactive de-escalation within community through education & training
Microgrant to train community leaders to then host trainings in community
Report Only Crimes
Direct property damage report & parking calls to 311
MPD no longer involved
311 should be able to provide solutions and connect people to relevant resources
Create comprehensive reporting system that’s accessible
This should include tracking abilities so community members can easily file a report and track its status
Ensure people understand the appropriate person to call before they encounter a crime situation
Train non-police City staff to take theft & damage reports, collect evidence - PILOT
Transfer parking calls to traffic control
Quick response would require expanding hours of operation
If you have comments or thoughts related to these recommendations, or to voice your support for them, email your City Council member or let us know in the comments.