August 17, 2022
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Program transferring mental health calls to crisis workers is working

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A new pilot program, designed to address mental health in Louisville, appears to be working, the city’s Emergency Management director said.

The program, named 911 Deflection, transfers mental health non-emergency 911 calls away from Louisville Metro Police and into the hands of crisis triage workers, known as CTWs.

Those triage workers, stationed inside the city’s 911 call center, can address situations over the phone or dispatch a mobile crisis response team, or MCRT, to handle the situation in the field.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the program back in October, contracting with Seven Counties Services to hire and train the CTWs and MCRT.

“There was a lot of training that had to be involved, not only on what they were specifically doing, but how the 911 system itself worked, the technology that was involved in it,” Meiman said.

The program launched in March, and EMA Director Jody Meiman told members of the Louisville Metro Council Tuesday he believes it’s working and should be expanded.

“It’s just a win-win for the entire city,” Meiman said.

The program launched in LMPD’s 4th Division, the division that over the past two years, handled 20 percent of the city’s crisis calls. In the weeks following, Meiman told Metro Council they’ve expanded the program into the 1st Division.

In the roughly three months since its inception, Meiman told Metro Council dispatchers have diverted 140 calls to the CTWs, mostly coming from those who are suicidal or threaten self harm.

Around 450 calls have been coded as “Deflection Not Available,” meaning the calls came from another police division or outside the CTW’s 2-10 p.m. window.

Meiman believes those calls prove the program needs to be expanded further.

“Seven Counties Services has been trying to hire more personnel to put into the center as the CTWs and that’s really what’s holding us back,” Meiman said. “Not only to expand divisions, but to expand to 24 hours around the clock.”

Seven Counties Services Chief Operating Officer David Weathersby told Metro Council most of the mobile team dispatches lead to a referral to a case manager. Weathersby said more work needs to be done to provide sustained help for those who need it.

The city’s new fiscal year begins July 1.

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WAVE — Louisville and Southern Indiana’s NBC affiliate. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram @wave3news.(WAVE)

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