February 11, 2022

’Care not cuffs’: Redefining mental health outreach

The past few years have shed light on what may be described as “mission creep” in policing. Law enforcement officers have been asked to do an awful lot of duties that may have not been on the original job description of being a cop. Things like dealing with drug addiction and homeless issues certainly stretch the expertise of professional law enforcement personnel. 

The "defund" movement may have actually been good in outsourcing some of those duties. Most of us can agree that dealing with people afflicted with serious mental health issues has been problematic and vexing. Solutions are appearing. The FCC recently adopted rules to establish 988 as the new, nationwide, three-digit phone number for mental health emergencies, set to go live on July 16, 2022. Dispatchers will triage calls to route them to the most appropriate resource-civilian medical or law enforcement.

In this episode of Policing Matters, host Jim Dudley speaks with Dr. Vincent Atchity of Mental Health Colorado and the Equitas Project about the organization's Care Not Cuffs initiative about how to connect individuals with mental illness with community partners that can help achieve better health outcomes and more efficiently managed costs.

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