Police responding to citizens’ mental health episodes without the benefit of a trained professional will soon be just an afterthought when the city launches a pilot program next month. In 13 Chicago neighborhoods, certified mental health specialists will accompany police responding to calls regarding someone undergoing a crisis. Mental health workers and even some police officers have long maintained law enforcement isn’t always equipped to handle someone going through a mental lapse, regardless of the severity. The pilot program will send teams consisting of a paramedic, police officer and mental health crisis intervention professional and is set to begin in August. Communities on the West Side, North Side and South Side have been identified.
The program, Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE), was announced in June at Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Violence Prevention and Reduction committee meeting. The targeted communities include; Auburn Gresham, Chatham, Chicago Lawn, East Garfield Park, Gage Park, Humboldt Park, Lakeview, North Center, Uptown, West Garfield Park, West Elsdon, West Englewood and West Lawn.