Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego: Mental Health Calls Have Been 'Huge Stress' On Police Department

Published: Monday, May 6, 2019 - 4:08pm
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019 - 11:21am
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Bret Jaspers/KJZZ
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.

The city of Phoenix wants to improve how residents get connected to mental health services. This comes after a recent report on police officer-involved-shootings, which spiked in 2018 at 44.

The report, written by the National Police Foundation, showed a consensus opinion among police and community members that officers are too often the only responders to mental health calls.

According to Phoenix police, officers brought over 12,000 people to urgent psychiatric centers last year. Those spring from family members or mental health professionals petitioning a judge to require a mental health evaluation, or from police officers bringing someone to a facility after responding to an emergency call.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego told KJZZ’s The Show the city is evaluating its mental health response.

“When you’re doing that many calls per day, you really have to look at your staffing and make sure we’re making the appropriate decisions,” she said. “Should our precincts have mental health professionals there who are available to go out on calls? Do we want to have them embedded with the police department? Should there be separate services?”

Gallego said for people looking to talk to an mental health expert or get long-term resources, the Crisis Response Network Hotline may be better than calling 911.

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