Tempe will handle some mental health-related 911 calls with specialists

PHOENIX — Specialized professionals will soon be handling some mental health-related 911 emergency calls in Tempe, the city of East Valley announced Friday.

Under a groundbreaking plan that will come into effect on January 31, police will no longer be dispatched when someone threatens to self-harm, unless the subject is armed or violent.

Tempe will be the first city in the Phoenix area to have its own mental health crisis call response team, according to a news release.

“Tempe is at the forefront of creating new models for social services and public safety,” Mayor Corey Woods said in the statement.

“This new model will provide the best response to the person in crisis and give our officers more time to focus on fighting crime.

Calls regarding non-violent suicidal topics will be connected to a mental health professional from Solari Crisis & Human Services under a partnership unanimously approved Thursday night by City Council.

Solari advisors will dispatch the city’s CARE 7 Crisis Response Team when it is determined that in-person assistance is needed.

Officials hope to expand the program to calls about anxiety, substance abuse, family issues and other mental health issues.

More than 1,700 mental health calls were made to Tempe police last year, the statement said.

“Tempe police officers are the best at what they do to keep our community safe,” Chief Jeff Glover said in the statement.

“We are delighted that this partnership allows their real expertise to shine and gives mental health experts the opportunity to lend their skills to people in crisis.”

The new program was developed in response to a recommendation from the city’s Public Safety Advisory Task Force.

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