New mental health crisis team in Anchorage for some crisis police calls

New mental health crisis

An unarmed crisis that Anchorage will handle will be the new mental health crisis during the fiscal year that began on Jan 1. 

On Tuesday, the 2021 budget was passed by the Anchorage Assembly that included $1.5 million for the new mental health first responders team. The responders aiding the anchorage police department answered to a portion of 7,300 mental health crisis calls that they received over a year.

The main purpose of the group is to de-escalate crises, to stabilize individuals in crisis and connect or refer to connect them to different services. The team will do triage and assessment in a one hour response time.

There was a Twitter thread from Assembly member Dunbar, that the team will consist of mental health specialists, case managers, paramedics and peer staff.

Many residents from Anchorage learned that a potential mental health responder team in late October responded to a Twitter highlighting San Francisco’s unarmed mental health terms. Such a team was in the work of anchorage.

The city of Denver was recently deployed in June called support team assisted response that responded to 600 calls that were mostly from homeless people, shuddering from mental illness and substance abuse- no criminal activity. The STAR program sends mental health workers and paramedics rather than the police that responds to calls that don’t involve crimes and with 10 percent of calls from the Denver police department or emergency medical services. 

There is one community of Anchorage that has a safety patrol and patrol van dispatched by the anchorage fire department call centre to help people who appear to be incapacitated by alcohol or drugs. The van patrols may be in need of assistance when they do not dispatch from the fire department. Then people need to be taken into protective custody, evacuated or transported to a hospital for further care.

They were doubtful about the new crisis team initiative that they focus more on their concerns on a lack of clarity on policies and procedure that includes:

  • What happens if the MCT or police will respond?
  • What happens if the situation escalates?
  • What kind of emergency falls under the MCT scope?
  • How will the team handle the multiple calls concurrently?
  • Will the MCT have an assigned officer to accompany them?

The new initiative is being funded by the anchorage fire department and revenue from the alcohol tax that was approved in April.

A sum of $93,500 was awarded to the library from alcohol tax and the justification that will keep people out of prison.

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Featured Image Credits- Must Read Alaska

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