PHOENIX - Specialized professionals will soon handle certain mental health-related 911 emergency calls in Tempe, the East Valley city announced Friday.
Under a groundbreaking plan set to go into effect Jan. 31, police officers will no longer be dispatched when somebody is threatening self-harm unless the subject is armed or violent.
Tempe will be the first Phoenix-area city with its own response team for mental health crisis calls, according to a press release.
"Tempe is on the leading edge of creating new models for human services and public safety," Mayor Corey Woods said in the release.
"This new model will get the best response to the person in crisis and give our police officers more time to focus on fighting crime."
Calls about nonviolent suicidal subjects will be connected to mental health professional from Solari Crisis & Human Services under a partnership approved unanimously Thursday night by the City Council.
Solari counselors will dispatch the city's CARE 7 crisis response team when it's determined that in-person help is required.
Officials are hoping to expand the program to calls involving anxiety, substance abuse, family problems and other mental health issues.
More than 1,700 mental health calls were made to Tempe police last year, according to the release.
"Tempe police officers are the best at what they do to keep our community safe," Chief Jeff Glover said in the release.
"We are thrilled that this partnership will allow their true expertise to shine and give mental health experts the opportunity to lend their skills to those in crisis."
The new program was developed in response to a recommendation by the city's Public Safety Advisory Task Force.