The City of Los Angeles has launched a program to redirect 911 calls about the homeless to outreach teams.
According to the Associated Press, starting in December, a new pilot program in Los Angeles will reroute nonviolent 911 calls connected to the homeless to a team of trained unarmed experts rather than the police.
The teams will be made up of mental health physicians and trained outreach workers. They will be accessible at all times beginning next month to answer diverted non-emergency calls from the 911 system and the police non-emergency line.
Los Angeles has more over 54,000 homeless people in 2020, up from around 45,000 in 2018. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, just 11,000 homeless persons will be housed in safe havens, regular housing, or emergency shelters in 2020.
At a press conference Tuesday morning, Mayor Eric Garcetti stated, “We will never arrest our way out of this situation.” According to Court House News, he claimed the LAPD receives roughly 140,000 calls on the homeless each year.
According to Court House News, Garcetti stated that the new pilot program would free up police personnel, allowing them to react to crime-related calls and other investigations.
The CIRCLE (Crisis and Incident Response through Community-Led Engagement) team will include 48 members. The program is scheduled to last through June 2022. According to The Crime Report, the city will spend $2.2 million and the county will spend $30 million.
See the list below for more Associated Press reporting.
The new program is being piloted in Hollywood and Venice, where teams of outreach workers and mental health specialists have been placed part-time in areas with a high population of homeless persons and a high amount of service calls.
“The teams will continue to build a rapport with the unhoused community, perform light sanitation work, de-escalate situations as they arise, and create referrals to local service providers,” according to a statement from Garcetti’s office announcing the program.
CIRCLE is one of Garcetti’s multi-pronged approach to addressing the city’s out-of-control homeless crisis. The mayor has suggested spending about $1 billion over the next year to get people off the streets, develop housing, and clean up wretched encampments that have sprouted across the city.
The new program, according to City Council President Nury Martinez, will relieve police officers of their responsibilities. This is a condensed version of the information.