ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s been over a year since the Community Response Team pilot launched in Orlando.
Last year, the Orlando Police Department partnered with Aspire Health to create Community Response Teams, which have trained mental health professionals who respond to non-violent calls that require mental health support.
According to the department, in the first year of the program, the teams responded to 956 calls and connected more than half of those people to local mental health care.
Capt. Lovetta Quinn-Henry with the Orlando Police Department explained Monday the benefits of the program in front of Orlando city commissioners.
She said it allows distressed individuals to feel less threatened when they need services. It also enhances law enforcement efficiency by using mental health professionals.
Quinn-Henry explained the department was relieved there was no use of force or arrests involving Community Response Teams.
She said she’s hoping to add two additional teams to the program but will need funding from the city to do so.
“We started off with the pilot and it was a very modest start, as you can see, they’ve done an amazing job with that start, however, what we know from our independent review is that if we had more teams able to utilize our current teams more, we can actually really, really make an impact on those different calls for services that come in that really don’t require a police response,” Quinn-Henry said.
Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orlando city commissioners approved $450,000 last year to fund the alternative mental health response pilot program.
Dyer told Quinn-Henry budget season for the city is approaching, but no decision was made on Monday.