Over the years, I’ve expressed my frustrations to the Mayor and City Council about the way we handle 911 issues that don’t get to the core of why they keep occurring over and over again with the same individuals. It’s especially frustrating when the help an individual does receive doesn’t resolve their crisis or makes it worse. We’re observing people in a state of one crisis after another who require a different form of help than what 911 can provide.
Finally, we have created a new model to address these emergencies. For the past several months, I and a number of mental health experts from around the City have been meeting to discuss ways we could assist Chicagoans who are experiencing all types of trauma and mental health issues, especially due to COVID-19. One intervention that has come out of these meetings is a 911 co-responder model. This is a pilot project that we hope will eventually be implemented throughout the entire city. In my 10+ years as your alderman, this is one of the most promising interventions yet that I believe will produce lasting results for those who continue to fall through the cracks of our current emergency care system.
The pilot will start in 13 community areas, which will include Uptown and Lakeview. This program will involve a social worker, a paramedic, and a crisis intervention trained police officer in plain clothes. They will drive a van to respond to emergencies and connect individuals who may have been reluctant to accept help in the past.
Some situations for a co-responder team may include:
– a person who is having a mental health crisis
– a person who is experiencing a serious substance abuse issue
– a person who is experiencing domestic violence
– a person who is engaged in aggressive panhandling
I am joining some of my colleagues and the Mayor’s Office to host a community town hall meeting to discuss this program with YOU.
Click here to register to participate in our Community Town Hall!