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What Happens When Social Workers, Not Armed Officers, Respond To 911 Calls?

A growing movement aims to shift 911 calls for mental health, substance abuse, or homelessness away from armed officers.
A growing movement aims to shift 911 calls for mental health, substance abuse, or homelessness away from armed officers.

In September, Albuquerque became the latest city to establish a new category of first responder: social worker.

It’s part of a growing movement to shift 911 calls for mental health, substance abuse, or homelessness away from armed officers.

From The Washington Post:

shield officers from liability — the concept of shifting the burden of mental health calls to unarmed responders continues to gain traction.

Alex Vitale, coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College.

The appeal is clear: In places where the idea has been tried, Vitale said, the outcome has been “fewer emergency room visits, which are extremely expensive, fewer jailings, which are even more expensive, and fewer police interventions, which come with a huge risk of force.”

We talk with Vitale and members of Albuquerque’s new Community Safety Department.

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