Minneapolis health crisis teams respond to more than 7,000 calls in 2022

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A new report from the Minneapolis Office of Performance, Management and Innovation (PMI) showed the city’s Behavioral Health Crisis Response Teams (BCR) answered 7,600 calls for mental health assistance during 2022. They were averaging about 140 calls each week in December.

The crisis response team members are unarmed and handle mental health calls that are not considered dangerous in order to reduce the workload of individual Minneapolis police officers.

At a Wednesday Public Health and Safety Committee hearing, PMI Director Brian Smith told city council members the program still faces staffing challenges and struggled with two vans that broke down on occasion which meant there were calls that had to be handed off to Minneapolis police.

“But, there is an understanding, not in the contract but amongst the partners, that if BCR is not available for something they stopped police from going to, that police, if they are available, will go,” said Smith.

Interim BRC Program Manager, Marissa Stevenson, said there are new vans that should help keep BRC teams mobile on a more regular basis.

“So, it’s been highly frustrating for our staff who are sitting in the office, or out on foot in the community trying to make connections, or in the skyways who are ready and eager to work,” said Stevenson.  “New vans are on back order and I have heard that they are here which is very exciting.”

The BRC program is a pilot project and there has not been a definitive date set for its full launch.