June 3, 2021

Helena Moreno

Council Unanimously Endorses Crisis Response and Intervention Team Framework

Council Unanimously Endorses Crisis Response and Intervention Team Framework

NEW ORLEANS - Today, the City Council began the process of establishing a non-police Crisis Response and Intervention Team to respond to and help people in mental health crises. Currently, it’s NOPD that handles thousands of mental health calls annually while other cities are now transitioning to more effectively utilizing mental health professionals to respond to these cases instead of police. 


“This resolution is about best serving people in mental health crises and also best utilizing our public safety resources,” said Council President Moreno. “We need to better address the immediate needs stemming from calls for crisis intervention with appropriate mental and clinical support. And it has become critical that we ensure NOPD can prioritize their time on reducing and preventing violent crime. I look forward to working with the Health Department, City Public Safety agencies, and the community to establish this critical service for our city.” 


The resolution, unanimously approved by the Council today, requires a task force to be formed to build the New Orleans response model. Cities such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, Denver, and others, have used this type of intervention to alleviate the burden on current public safety resources and better match those in crisis with supportive services. Similar programs have also led to millions of dollars in annual savings to law enforcement. 


"Mental health issues are not criminal, Councilmember Banks said. "Someone in a mental health crisis is in need of medical attention just the same as someone having a heart attack. The most effective way to handle both is with medical professionals, not police. We have to remove the stigma of mental health and embrace it as a medical issue, not a criminal one."


"Simply put, mental health crises require trained professionals that can intervene and deescalate these situations," Councilmember Palmer explained. "I look forward to getting a program up and running that ensures we as a city are providing the necessary resources to those in need while keeping our police officers focused on preventing violent crime."


The New Orleans Health Department presented in support of the resolution and noted that there were more than 3,000 NOPD calls for service that would be appropriate for a response from a crisis team, including calls for non-violent mental disorders, persons threatening suicide or welfare checks. A crisis response team could provide counseling, conflict resolution and mediation, substance abuse linkage with treatment, resource connection, and transportation to services. The Health Department also emphasized that it is not NOPD’s core function to respond to behavior health calls especially when police resources are already overburdened.  


“I fully support expanding our options to care for our people who are in crisis," said Councilmember-At-Large Donna Glapion. "A professional, community-based crisis response structure will further enable us to connect people to treatment and slow down the revolving door of the criminal justice system on which so many sick New Orleanians find themselves. We have asked our police to do entirely too much when they are simply not equipped to deal with every issue that may arise in the community. We’ve seen on a small scale how a harm reduction approach can effectively work in the place of traditional law enforcement, but we need to look at the issue more holistically. This is a great first step.”


"Too often, the conversation around crime swings to two disparate points - either abolish the police or put everyone in jail," Councilmember Giarrusso added. "Neither of those options are viable, just, or equitable. When it comes to mental health issues, let's use the best available resources to help expert crisis intervention teams, so the NOPD can focus on reducing violent person and serious property crimes."


Following this resolution, the Council President will next formalize a task force to develop a policy framework and strategy, including stakeholders, public safety agencies, and community advocates. 





Media Contact:

Andrew Tuozzolo

Chief of Staff, Office of Helena Moreno


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