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City Council Committee Backs Pilot Program For Unarmed Crisis Response

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Too often, when armed police officers respond to people in a mental health or substance abuse crisis, the situation can escalate to violence.

Community groups in L.A. have long been pushing to remove law enforcement from that equation.

Today the city took a step toward that goal. The City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Police Reform recommended starting a search for nonprofit partners who can operate a pilot program for unarmed crisis response units.

These would be mental health or social workers who can be dispatched to non-violent, non-criminal 911 calls in place of the LAPD.

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Pastor Byron Smith with Community Coalition called in to the special meeting to voice support:

“Police must be removed from mental health responses. Because they’re operating outside of their scope of practice."

L.A. is now looking to mirror a longstanding program in Eugene, Oregon where teams of health professionals respond to 17% of calls for service and operate 24/7.

While the Los Angeles police have special units for responding to mental health and domestic violence, those pair armed officers with service providers.