Residents in Minneapolis push to expand program offering more resources to officers responding to mental crisis calls

November 29, 2018 06:25 PM

There are renewed calls in Minneapolis to get more mental health resources to police officers responding to people in crisis.

Community members are pushing the city to expand the co-responder pilot project - a program that pairs mental health professionals with officers.

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The co-responder program currently only operates in police precincts located in south Minneapolis.

But community members want it to go citywide - including in North Minneapolis where Minneapolis police shot and killed Travis Jordan nearly three weeks ago.


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On Nov. 9, a friend called 911 to ask for a welfare check on Jordan, who was suicidal. Investigators said Jordan came out the front door armed with a knife and officers opened fire.

Speakers at a Minneapolis City Council committee meeting Thursday afternoon criticized those officers for their response. They said if the co-responder program was in place across the city, people in crisis would be more likely to get the help they need.

But police have said a co-responder team would not have changed what happened to Jordan because those units are not sent to calls that involve a weapon or where there is an immediate threat.

However, a spokesperson said MPD is in favor of the co-responder program being expanded to all of Minneapolis.

During Thursday's meeting, MPD inspector Kathy Waite presented leaders with an update of the program.

"This program is not designed to be handling extremely volatile situations," Waite said. "The (co-responders) are here to partner together, to provide a service as often as they can to those that are desperate need for that level of support."

Data shows that over the last year, co-responder teams have done 985 assessments.

Waite said the program needs to be implemented in all precincts in the city, but that more money has to be allocated for that to happen.

Officials told council members that full implementation could cost the city as much as $350,000 to $700,000 for equipment and personnel.
 

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Kirsten Swanson and Tim Vetscher

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