Thousands of 911 calls on track to be diverted from APD to mental health clinicians

Thousands of 911 calls are on track to be diverted away from law enforcement to mental health clinicians this year, according to an update from Austin City Council.

A year ago, Austin became one of the first cities in the country to offer a fourth option to callers when dialing 911. Those in need of mental health services are transferred to an on-site health professional instead of the Austin Police Department.

The expanded mobile crisis outreach team received 3,700 calls in 2021. They're on track to receive nearly 8,000 calls this year. 

Research indicates when officers were aware of a mental health crisis component, arrest rates were 45 percent lower and use of force was 56 percent lower.

The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute made recommendations to the city council Tuesday morning to expand the program.

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