Oakland 911 Operators Direct Trained Experts To Mental Health Calls

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With changes in policing across the country, Oakland City Council will approve a pilot program in which 911 operators instruct trained civilians to deal with mental health calls.

The Oakland Mobile Assistance Community Responders (MACRO) will be deployed in the East Oakland area and will be conducted as a police-free operation within the Oakland Fire Department. Two-person teams of ambulance medics and trained community members will handle mental health and low-level emergency calls. These include public urination, erratic behavior, and welfare checks.

According to Yahoo News, the final details will be worked out between the fire department and stakeholders.

“We do not want to [police] I’m involved in these calls because we’re fed up with the death toll, “Police Accountability Coalition member Cathy Leonard told The Appeal. “We need answers to the residents.”

Due to the pandemic and budget crisis in the city, the MACRO program received $ 1.85 million of the $ 3.09 million that the program was supposed to receive. However, city council members say the funding the program received is part of an effort to reduce the city’s police department’s budget by 50%.

The MACRO program is based on Eugene, Oregon’s CAHOOTS program, an emergency department that helps law enforcement agencies take calls for social services and mental health. The CAHOOTS staff serves as the first point of contact and means of transport for people who are mentally intoxicated, mentally ill or disoriented.

According to a crime analysis by the Eugene Police Department, the CAHOOTS program takes an estimated 5% to 8% of 911 calls from the police.

There have been numerous incidents where police showed up for mental health exams that resulted in the police death of a black man or woman.

Last year, Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old black man, suffered from a mental episode after tapping PCP and walking naked on the street. Police spotted Prude and held him face down on the sidewalk for more than two minutes. He died on the night of March 23rd.

Rulennis Munoz, Walter Wallace Jr., and Patrick Warren Sr. were all killed by police who responded to a mental health call last year.

According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, people with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement.