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The city mobile crisis response team officially starts responding to mental health calls

The blue City of Syracuse Department of Police sign stands outside the department's office.
WAER File Photo
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WAER.org
The City of Syracuse Department of Police sign at 511 S State St.

Staff from Liberty Resources, a mental, behavioral and physical health assistance organization, are now being dispatched throughout Syracuse under a formal agreement to respond to mental health crisis calls.

Syracuse Common Councilors approved Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh's plan this past spring to deploy a mobile crisis response team of mental health professionals to help diffuse tense situations before they escalate. Police Chief Joe Cecile told residents at an Eastside virtual Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today(TNT) meeting last week that he hopes the alternate intervention works as planned.

"So, this is a pilot program, the city is paying them," Cecile said. "We're doing it early on with ARPA [American Rescue Plan Act] funds, but eventually, we'll probably budget for it and if it's successful I'd like to see them and I think we'd all like to see them on every single shift."

The Eastside TNT is a neighborhood initiative for Eastside Syracuse residents to discuss community issues and help their neighborhood prosper.

The city is using $257,000 in federal pandemic relief funds for the intervention effort. Under the pilot program, the team can take calls directly from the 911 center. That way, the team does not wait for the police to arrive on the scene and respond when the police realize they need assistance from mental health professionals. The mobile crisis team can also conduct an on-site suicide assessment to determine the level of intervention needed, and follow up with patients afterward.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at srwillis@syr.edu.