Reformers want police to step back from mental health calls. The LAPD says it’s been trying
Los Angeles Times / June 24, 2020
Under current protocols, an LAPD patrol unit dispatched to a suicide call will stabilize the scene, handcuff the individual and, in some cases, determine if they meet the criteria for a 5150 hold, a detention of up to 72 hours for those deemed a threat to themselves or others, or for those gravely disabled due to a mental illness.
Under a new scheme, the dispatcher could hand off a call from a suicidal person or third party to Didi Hirsch counselors. A call wouldn’t be diverted if a person was threatening to jump off a structure or run into traffic, needed emergency medical attention, had a weapon in a public place or with people present or posed another public safety risk. Didi Hirsch could also transfer the call back to 911.
Such a system aims to minimize instances where people might avoid seeking help in the future because they were put in handcuffs or involuntarily hospitalized, said Sandri Kramer, the project and grants manager for Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center.
“There’ll be sirens involved and flashing lights — it’s definitely not a quiet way to get somebody some help,” said Kramer. “You can imagine a person in high emotional distress — that’s the last thing they would need.”