SEATTLE – Emergency 911 calls related to mental health issues in Seattle will soon be handled by unarmed “crisis responders” instead of police officers as a result of a new “alternate response team” being spearheaded by Democrat Councilwoman Lisa Hebold.
Last Friday, Hebold announced the city is beginning to hire six positions for the new pilot program in order to provide unarmed “crisis responders” to handle certain emergency calls related to mental health, Fox News Digital reported.
“Well, you know, usually I’m complaining about how delayed we are and how frustrated I am that we’re not meeting our benchmarks for developing this program. But today I’m really, really happy to report that the city is hiring for the six positions for its first pilot alternate response team. It’s going to be a way for 911 operators to dispatch calls to somebody other than police, somebody other than fire, a crisis responder who is unarmed,” Herbold noted.
Continuing, she said, “The police department will be aware of the dispatch. They may attend, they may stage nearby, or they just may have situational awareness. Each call is going to be different, but it’s really exciting that we’re finally up and running with hiring the folks who will be doing this really important work that we have been working on since, I think, August of 2020.”
BREAKING: Seattle police and fire will no longer be answering to mental crisis calls.
“Crisis responders” or social workers, will be dispatched instead. They are not allowed to be armed 🧵 pic.twitter.com/toxYdekPbY
— Katie Daviscourt (@KatieDaviscourt) August 22, 2023
The 911 Dual Dispatch/Alternate Crisis Response program is funded in the amount of $1.6 million following a midyear supplement to the city budget.
“The new dual dispatch program will send mental health professionals as the first responders to 911 calls involving people in behavioral health crises. Those mental health professionals will have police backup available to them, but SPD officers would only approach if needed,” according to Herbold.
The councilwoman’s website said, “With this action, we can finally take the next step toward our community’s calls for policing alternatives. We know we cannot continue to ask police to do it all. This program will help focus our approach to public safety and free up officers to more quickly respond to the types of emergencies that only they can.”
In August 2020, Herbold was one of the first politicians behind the vote that chipped away and demoralized members of the Seattle Police Department. The plan cut 100 officers from the department’s table of organization, which called for 1,400 sworn personnel, and $3 million from the agency’s $400 million budget.
About the same time, Herbold also supported legislation that would drop misdemeanor charges for defendants who suffer from substance abuse, have a mental disorder or live in poverty.
A frequent trend with liberal politicians is they want to be an exception to their own rules. In Dec. 2020, Herbold called police to her home to report a crime she was effectively trying to decriminalize after someone threw a rock through her living room window.
After being criticized for reporting an offense she was trying to decriminalize, Herbold said she would like a jury to hear a defendant’s reason for committing the crime.
“It’s giving people an opportunity to tell their stories and giving judges and juries the opportunity to hear those stories and make a decision based on the values of our city,” Herbold said at the time.