LAPD's new Alternative Dispatch program calls on mental health professionals to handle nonviolent calls

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- LAPD's Alternative Dispatch program is another step in the city's vow to reduce how often armed officers respond to nonviolent calls.

The new program involves sending out civilian personnel to mental health calls that are nonviolent and do not involve some type of criminal activity.

This is in response to a call from Los Angeles city and county leaders to come up with alternatives to police officers responding to these types of calls.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore says with recent cuts in personnel and other resources, his department has made those adjustments. In recent weeks, the LAPD has sent out mental health professionals in nearly 100 calls.

"Rather than a police officer responding and then seeking the help of mental health professionals, we've been able to streamline and make that alternate service," said Moore.

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Los Angeles city and county leaders unveiled a new way of dealing with mental health-related emergency calls, one that will help keep armed police officers out of the mix.

In addition, the process for handling fender-benders has also been streamlined. If you are involved in an accident that does not involve any serious injuries, you will be asked to fill out a police report online. The department says it will take about 20 minutes to fill out the report and then you'll receive a code that you can give your insurance company so they can access.

"You're looking at saving 16,000 10-hour shifts for police officers that can remain in the community and address community concerns regarding crime," said Deputy Chief Blake Chow.

With the recent uptick in violent crime in Los Angeles, there are now more officers handling more serious crimes instead of dealing with minor traffic accidents.

Chief Moore is asking for federal funding as well to help pay for the civilian employees that will start responding to nonviolent and non-criminal calls out in the field.
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