Alternatives to police response

We’re working on new ways to expand our response to crisis calls, especially mental health calls.

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Overview

The City’s response to emergency calls must improve to meet the needs of all residents. Data on residents who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) shows that:

  • BIPOC residents represent about 37% of the Minneapolis population.
  • BIPOC residents represent 52% of mental health crisis calls.

We are creating pilot programs to:

  • Offer specialized response to mental health crisis calls
  • Train call takers to assess mental health crisis calls
  • Place mental health professionals in 911 department
  • Provide better mental health outcomes for BIPOC communities and all residents

We will start handling some issues through online reporting or 311. When people call to report any of these issues, we will direct them to make an online report or call 311:

  • Property damage
  • Theft report
  • Parking problems
  • Other report-only calls

Report a mental health crisis

If you have a mental health crisis in Minneapolis, you can continue to call:

  • 911
  • The Cope mobile crisis team in Hennepin County:

Read about Cope mobile crisis team services

In 2021, two mental health teams will be available 24/7 for crisis calls. This means:

  • Police may not provide the primary response for a mental health crisis call.
  • Police may still respond if the mental health teams are both on current calls.

Mental health crisis response may change in 2022. Our mental health pilot programs in 2021 will inform this next step.

Report theft or property damage

To report theft or property damage, you can

New response programs

Pilot 1 - Use mobile mental health crisis response teams

 

We have funded four pilot programs for 2021.

Non-police response teams will respond to an emergency mental health crisis. Teams:

  • Will include mental health providers
  • May include medical professionals

Program goals:

  • Provide an alternative to police for people having a mental health crisis
  • Assess needs and provide care and support
  • Avoid unneeded hospitalization or criminal charges

Pilot 2 - Train 911 dispatch to assess mental health calls

Some 911 call takers, dispatchers and supervisors will receive mental health dispatch training. We will evaluate their experience before training all responders.

Program goals:

  • Give 911 call takers tools needed to assess mental health calls
  • Dispatch calls to the best response team
  • Provide responders with high quality information on mental health and behavioral issues

Pilot 3 - Embed mental health professionals in 911

 Two mental health professionals will work with call takers and dispatchers to:

  • Improve mental health triage
  • Divert calls from the police department
  • Identify the best response for mental health calls

Program goals:

  • Divert 911 mental health calls from police response
  • Identify appropriate resources for the person in crisis
  • Provide improved triage on a broader scale

Pilot 4 - Train non-police City staff to take theft and property damage reports and collect evidence

City employees will take theft and property damage reports from Minneapolis residents:

  • Employees will be non-sworn officers.
  • This responsibility could fall under an existing position or be part of a new position.

Program goals:

  • Provide an in-person response option for theft and property damage reports
  • Free police department time

2021 timeline

Jan. - April 2021

Planning phase

We will decide how to staff the pilot programs and which partners to involve.

April - Sept. 2021

Pilot phase

We will see how the pilot programs go and what adjustments we need to make. This would allow us to make changes. The mental health teams will continue their work when this phase ends.

Sept. - Oct. 2021

Analysis phase

We will complete a formal evaluation and provide final recommendations.

Nov. 2021

Report to City Council

We will explain our plans for 2022.

Historical timeline

Dec. 2020

Approved funding

Mayor and City Council approved funding for:

  • Pilot
  • Testing alternative response models for:
    • Mental health crisis calls
    • Report-only calls
Nov. 2020

Gave recommendations

The Office of Performance and Innovation gave:

  • Recommendations
  • Alternative response models that should move forward to on-the-ground pilot phase
Aug. 2020

Completed survey and model planning

The Office of Performance and Innovation:

  • Completed a community survey
  • Began community model planning for alternative response for:
    • Mental health calls
    • Report-only calls
Dec. 2019

Approved plans and gave funding

The Mayor and City Council:

  • Approved work group plans
  • Gave funding for models
Aug. 2019

Formed work group

We formed a work group to:

  • Analyze data
  • Decide which types of calls we could test for alternative response
Dec. 2018

City Council gave direction

The City Council asked the City Coordinator’s Office for advice. Their request was to identify areas where the City should explore non-police response.

Pilot program updates

During the year, we'll give pilot program updates to the City Council. The public can:

  • Watch these updates on the City's YouTube channel
  • View related information on the City's Legislative Information Management System (LIMS):
    • Presentation slides
    • Other supporting documents and information

See LIMS

See Minneapolis YouTube channel

Updates will include:

  • Pilot program progress
  • Reporting on metrics and findings
  • Adjustments we’re making based on pilot learnings

About mental health response teams

How teams will interact with residents

Team members will:

  • Be empathetic
  • Treat people experiencing crises as human beings, not criminals
  • Receive extensive training on:
    • Mental health crisis interventions
    • De-escalation tactics
    • Trauma
    • Race and gender identity

The team will provide:

  • Counseling and medical support for people in crisis
  • Connections to support services

When responding in person, the team will:

  • Be unarmed and dressed down
  • Have a van of supplies to address the immediate needs of the person in crisis

Types of calls teams respond to

Mobile mental health crisis teams will respond to emotionally disturbed person (EDP) incidents.

As the pilot programs unfold, we will share other responses publicly as they develop.

Response to crisis calls before 2021

Historically

In the past, we depended on the following departments to respond to crisis calls:

  • Minneapolis Police Department
  • Minneapolis Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services

Starting in 2018

City leaders created a working group to explore alternative responses to 911 calls. Since 2018, the City Coordinator’s Office of Performance and Innovation (OPI) has led the City in this transition.

In 2020

  • The OPI began a community-centered review of alternatives to police response.
  • The City Council approved several recommendations.
    See Transforming Community Safety and Engagement Plan
  • Plan goals:
    • To provide the right resources to residents at the right time
    • To leverage existing City resources
    • To use community resources

In 2021

We seek existing community providers to partner with on this work:

  • We may test multiple options, including
    • Partnering licensed mental health providers with emergency medical services and emergency medical technicians
    • Partnering with violence prevention community navigators
  • We will use a competitive request for proposal (RFP) process to find and evaluate the best service providers.
  • We want to ensure an equitable process. To do this, we’re asking providers for advice on inclusive procurement practices.

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Contact us

Office of Performance & Innovation

Address

City Coordinator's Office
350 Fifth St. S.
Room 301M
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Office hours

8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Monday – Friday

Minneapolis 311

Hours

7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Monday – Friday

See list of City holidays