Dayton proposes alternative policing for mental health calls
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Dayton became the latest U.S. city to introduce plans for an alternative policing system to handle certain calls relating to people in mental health crises.
The western Ohio city approved a $150,000 contract last week with a Washington, D.C.-based company, tasking them with data analysis of emergency calls made to the department, making recommendations and meeting with community stakeholders, Dayton Daily News reported Monday.
The process in partnership with Dignity Best Practices will happen over the next six months during which the city will evaluate whether a mental health professional or social worker could be better responders than Dayton police officers.
The city will also consider new training for emergency dispatchers and identify a system for how dispatchers can best communicate and work with officers and residents. The program will begin next year.
The proposal is part of a larger effort by Dayton to reform policing as the national discussion around the role police have in communities continues to shift after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
The announcement brings Dayton alongside the state’s capital, Columbus, which introduced a similar pilot program in May.
Columbus’ program will be a four- to six-week experience when a paramedic, public health clinician and dispatcher will work together to review best responses to non-emergency calls.
The pilot will also explore how alternative responses will dovetail with the upcoming “988” number for people to call to reach a suicide hotline. The Federal Communications Commission approved the number last summer.