Phoenix City Council expand community assistance program
May 27, 2021
The Phoenix City Council recently expanded an existing program that figures out the best way to handle calls involving mental health issues. We talked with Mayor Kate Gallego about the community assistance program. It is new, and the budget sounds like it is there for it.
They recently had their first budget vote. She said they had strong support for the program. It allows clinicians and social workers to respond to 911 calls. She said she wants to help people that are facing different things like addiction or a mental health crisis. She explains that she believes it will help save people’s lives.
We talk about what the program was like before and why there is a need for expansion. In the fire department, there is a program full of city employees. Many have advanced social work degrees. She said they go out and help people on the worst days of their lives.
She said, “people have described these individuals to me as angels because they are there when your loved one is in a crisis, and you don’t know how to respond.” She explained that it was a grant-funded program, but now they are making it permanent.
The goal is to help the people out there as quickly as possible. She said they call law enforcement when someone is contemplating suicide. They will continue investing in crisis training as well, she said.
She tells a story about a friend with addiction and explains when the teams would be needed. She said many people have been grateful for these people already.
A retired firefighter calls in and says that they felt safer leaving a scene when crisis respond units were there, she said. “We are modernizing our 911 response to reflect the needs of our community,” she said. She explained that they have gotten a lot of great input from the community.