Orlando Police proposes adding a mental health professional to budget

·2 min read

A full-time licensed clinician could soon be working in Orlando’s 911 call center.

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The new position is part of the city’s $1.54 billion budget, which will have its first vote Monday.

The goal for the clinician is to help identify mental health-related calls quicker and take pressure off of police.

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Orlando has worked with Aspire Health Partners for the past year to handle a growing number of mental health and substance abuse-related calls.

But none of those employees physically work in the 911 call center.

Erin Martin, vice president for patient access at Aspire, said a new position carved out of the budget promises to boost those services from part-time to full-time and keep a clinician in the call center during peak hours.

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This new clinician will allow calls to be answered as soon as it comes in.

Orlando Police Community Response Team Supervisor Latashia Stephens said the mental health professional will have a better understanding of what type of service the caller needs.

In some cases, they may be able to resolve the situation over the phone.

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“We’re getting more calls because people want that service, they want to be able to talk to someone,” she said.

Stephens said people also want to know that there is an alternative resource available to them that is not a police officer.

Orlando 911 operators said most of the calls recently have been mental-health related.

The city’s Community Response Team has been dispatched to nearly 1,300 mental health or substance abuse calls.

All Orlando police officers are crisis-trained, but Stephens said seeing a uniformed police officer can be triggering for some people.

The new clinical is expected to start Oct. 1

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