VIDEO-Austin City Council to consider $4 million for mental health first responders

Today the Austin City Council will vote on reallocating millions of tax dollars from traditional policing to mental health services. The mayor insists this move will make the city safer. (File photo: CBS Austin)

Critics call it "defunding the police." Supporters call it “reimagining public safety." Today the Austin City Council will vote on reallocating millions of tax dollars from traditional policing to mental health services. The mayor insists this move will make the city safer.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler talks about situations where someone calls 9-1-1 to report a loved one in mental distress. The caller is used to the occasional melt-down, but this time their loved one is struggling to get back under control.

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That was the case in Utah last week when a mother called 9-1-1 about her 13-year-old son who has autism. She asked for a crisis intervention officer and instead got four police officers.

One of them ended up shooting the boy a dozen times after he repeatedly refused his verbal commands, the same problem the mom was having. Luckily the boy survived.

Mayor Adler says, “We’re thinking if we have mental health first responders to assist our police officers, be there to make some of the calls about what level of force is necessary to de-escalate situations, we can make the city safer for all of us.”

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Today Austin's city council will vote on spending $4 million to expand the city's relationship with Integral Care-- the county's mental health services-- to get 24/7 access to trained mental health responders. The plan will fund an additional advanced psychiatric nurse practitioner and a psychiatrist and increase access to mental telehealth services for the city's first responders.

All of this will boost Austin's EMCOT— Expanded Mobile Crisis Outreach Team." It's a big part of this city council's "reimagining public safety." We're going to be hearing a lot about them.

https://cbsaustin.com/amp/news/local/council-to-consider-4-million-for-mental-health-first-responders