Police officers are often the default first responders to a call for service, even in cases of mental and emotional crisis.
Now, Madison and Dane County leaders are looking at alternative models to reduce police calls for service.
For the program to take off, the city and county will have to collaborate, according to Madison Alder Arvina Martin, who is helping spearhead the city’s look at alternative models.
Last week, the Dane County Board introduced a proposed resolution for a new mental health first responders program. County officials say the program will be similar to a first responder program in Eugene, Oregon.
Michelle Perin is an EMT and Crisis Worker with CAHOOTS, or Crisis Assistance Helping Out On the Streets, which was first piloted in Eugene in 1989.
As Perin tells WORT producer Jonah Chester, CAHOOTS has been inundated with requests from cities to help build alternative community response models in the months following George Floyd’s killing.
(Photo c/o Whitebird Clinic)