The city of New Haven announced the beginning of a process creating a Community Crisis Response Team on Tuesday.
Certain calls received through the 9-1-1 system will be sent to mental health and social services staff who can provide more appropriate care for those callers than police officers, said Mayor Justin Elicker.
"To often we put the burden on police officers to be social workers," Elicker said.
"I want the police to do the work they are trained to do, address criminal activity that threatens the well being of our residents," the mayor added.
Elicker said the city will be reaching out to key stakeholders around the community in the coming weeks for their input. The mayor said the goal of the team is to work towards a more equitable and fair application of the justice system.
The team will be developed over phases and will launch gradually before full, 24/7 citywide coverage. The planning phase will take approximately six months.
In the case of calls that are routed to the crisis response team, the experts who respond will not carry weapons, but will carry police radios. The city hopes the program will cut down on arrests for mental health issues but will instead get people connected with treatment, said Project Fresh Start Coordinator Carlos Sosa-Lombardo. It is also hoped the crisis response program will cut down on unnecessary emergency room visits.
The goal of the Community Crisis Response Team is to provide a different approach to service calls to the police department that may not require a police response, according to a press release from the mayor's office. The team will include experts in harm reduction, mental health, substance abuse and other social services assistance.