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Tallahassee Creates Mental Health Crisis Response Team

The coronavirus has exasperated pre-existing mental health problems and now the City of Tallahassee, local law enforcement and the areas primary mental health hospital are trying to address it.

Traditionally, law enforcement has responded to mental health calls. Under the city’s pilot project—a new team made up of a licensed mental health professional, a TPD officer and paramedic would respond to non-violent calls for mental-health related help. The city gets about 23-hundred such calls a year, the city's Abena Ojetayo told commissioners.

That's more than six calls a day.

“It gives you insight into the volume of calls our law enforcement is responding to, and how we might better enhance their services and their reach in the community by bolstering them with another team that may be better trained to deal with that," said Ojetayo, Director of Housing and Community Resilience for the City of Tallahassee.

Commissioners Tuesday gave approval to the city manager to partner with the Apalachee Center to go ahead with the program.

"Knowing that we have brothers and sisters, moms and dads, friends and citizens dealing with mental health issues, sometimes a response by the police department isn't what's always needed. What's needed is a higher level of service," Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey said in a video message on twitter.

Dailey spearheaded the effort to create the pilot program and abstained from the vote. It was passed unanimously.

"I know this is going to make a difference in all our loves here in Tallahassee, and it's one more step in providing world-class services," he said.

The city commission previously approved $500,000 for the mental health crisis response team. It’s slated to launch next Spring.

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