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Tallahassee Transitioning Its Mental Health-Related 911 Calls From Patrol Police To Specially-Trained Team

Tom Flanigan
City of Tallahassee officials gather to announce the "official" launch of the mental health response program.

Now in its pilot stage, city officials hope to expand the program to cover all such calls for service.

Tallahassee's newly created mental health response team is now responding to many non-violent situations that used to be handled by uniformed police officers. Officials say the goal is to expand the program to accommodate all such service calls.
The 3-person teams, work out of the downtown fire station. The City's Abena Ojetayo said the team had its first call within an hour of going on duty March 29th.

"This pilot initiative pairs a mental health professional with a crisis intervention-trained police officer and a paramedic or EMT from our fire department."

At the moment, regular police are still dispatched to the calls as well. But Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell expects that to change.

"The goal of this entire program is to get to the point where officers aren't needed at all."

Last year, emergency dispatchers took more than 2,300 calls for service in Tallahassee for help with non-violent cases involving mental health issues.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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