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Mental health professionals to start handling some 911 calls in Howard County instead of police

Calvin Ball Lisa Myers
Posted at 10:20 AM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 13:18:28-04

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — Some 911 behavioral crisis calls in Howard County will soon be diverted to mental health professionals rather than police.

County Executive Calvin Ball on Thursday announced a Memorandum of Understanding between the Howard County Police Department and Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center.

“When there is not an immediate safety issue, many of these callers would be best supported by being directly connected with mental health professionals, instead of receiving a police response," said Ball. "Our goal is to meet the specific needs of each member of our community by directing them to the right services – especially during a time when more of our residents are struggling with mental health.”

Dispatchers will ask callers a series of questions including whether or not they have access to weapon, are under the influence, or plan on hurting themselves or others.

If callers answer yes to either question, police will still respond.

The move is similar to one Baltimore City implemented last month.

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

Johns Hopkins University this fall also intends to launch a pilot program that includes a Support Team responding to incidents of students, faculty, staff, and community members experiencing a crisis.

SEE ALSO: Johns Hopkins University assembling behavioral crisis team that partners clinicians and campus security