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Dallas Police Dispatch Social Workers To Some 911 Calls And It’s Working

by : Cameron Frew on : 11 Dec 2019 10:26
Dallas Police Dispatch Social Workers To Some 911 Calls And It's WorkingDallas Police Dispatch Social Workers To Some 911 Calls And It's WorkingDallas Police Department/Facebook

The Dallas police and fire department are rethinking 911 calls involving mental health crises: after sending out social workers on relevant cases, they’ve seen promising results.

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In 2019, the number of psych patients admitted to Parkland Hospital’s emergency room rose by 30%. To help curb these stats and prevent local jails from being more overcrowded, authorities had an idea.

Place a social worker inside the dispatch to assist with emergency calls, and send out a team with a mental health professional wherever possible. The plan was to target South Central Dallas, the area most affected by mental health-related calls, and it appears to be working.

Dallas PD Mental HealthDallas PD Mental HealthParkland Hospital/Facebook

In areas covered by the new RIGHT Care program – in which a team is sent out made up of a social worker, paramedic and police officer – the number of psych patients being admitted has dropped by 20%.

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Calling the results ‘remarkable’, Kurtis Young, director of social work at Parkland Hospital, cited the new initiative’s fiscal benefits as well as being able to provide better care.

Young told the Dallas Observer

We think that [the results are] significant enough that this program is having an impact. People now call 911 and ask for the RIGHT Care team.

Off the back of the initial run, which started in 2017, there are now plans for expansion. As well as additional training for police officers and firefighters, two further first-response teams will be added by mid-2020.

Does the Dallas Police Department offer training for its officers concerning mental health? Are there certain procedures they must follow in order to deal with someone with mental health?Assistant Chief Alonzo Anderson discusses mental health with our very own KSBM hosts!Go to 👉 https://live365.com/station/a42705 or via Facebook Live!#KSBMWeLive#SBMFamilyMatters#SBMTownview#TownviewSbm TownviewDallas Police Department

Posted by KSBM Radio: Voice of Townview on Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Each month, Dallas’s dispatch centre receives 1,500 mental health service calls. These result in five police officers being sent out – however, these calls rarely result in referrals to mental health service.

Unfortunately, this leads to people often being placed in Dallas County Jail, which has become the county’s de facto mental health treatment provider. Currently, around a quarter of the jail’s population are estimated to have mental health issues.

Ergo, the RIGHT Care program was introduced to divert ‘super-utilisers’ from the criminal justice system to a more appropriate means of treatment. ‘We’re trying to break a cycle,’ said Kevin Oden, the program’s coordinator.

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Kurtis Young Dallas PDKurtis Young Dallas PDParkland Hospital/Facebook

Social workers were brought in to help triage the calls and determine whether a case requires significant police attention. A social worker, paramedic and police officer are then sent out together.

Young added:

Putting them all in one vehicle has had its fun challenges, but at the end of the day, everybody came together because it was for the betterment of the patients.

While the original grant that’s currently funding the pilot expires in May next year, thankfully the North Texas Behavioral Health Association has offered to support it from then.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Health, 911, America, Dallas, Mental Health, Police, Texas, UA

Credits

Dallas Observer
  1. Dallas Observer

    Dallas Has Been Dispatching Social Workers to Some 911 Calls. It’s Working.