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Baltimore City 911 system to begin diverting some behavioral health calls away from police

Posted at 1:53 PM, May 07, 2021

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City's 911 call center next month will begin a pilot program to divert some behavioral health calls from police.

Instead trained professionals will handle certain mental health emergencies that involve potentially suicidal and non-suicidal individuals.

Residents needing help would simply call 911 as normal, and depending on their needs they may be connected to a trained mental health clinician.

Officials say about 13,000 behavioral health-related 911 calls are made each year in the city.

"The citywide pilot my administration will launch this summer will allow our police officers to spend more time focusing on violence," said Mayor Brandon Scott.

The pilot will be monitored 24/7 by trained staff from Baltimore Crisis Response Inc.

A committee will assist in evaluating the program’s outcomes and make recommendations for how to adapt and grow.

RELATED: Sen. Van Hollen & Baltimore leaders fight to have mental health professionals divert police calls

“To improve public safety, we must ensure those experiencing behavioral health and substance use crisis situations get the help they need," said U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen. "Not every emergency call requires a police response."

Baltimore City States Attorney Marilyn Mosby also applauded the program's launch.

"We are excited to see the launch of this 911 diversion pilot program. It sits at the core of our announcement to eliminate the prosecution of low level offenses by providing data driven alternatives to address mental and behavioral health concerns."