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Louisville Metro Government to expand hours of Crisis Call Diversion Program

 911 operators take calls at Louisville Metro Emergency Services
Amina Elahi
/
LPM
MetroSafe call-takers can screen calls to determine if mental health crisis services are warranted with the Crisis Call Diversion Program's new extended service hours.

The deflection program will add four service hours every day. The goal is to make the program available 24/7.

Louisville Metro Government’s Crisis Call Diversion Program, which lets a team of social workers respond to some 911 calls for people experiencing mental health crises, will expand its hours. The program currently runs from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., but beginning July 1, the crisis triage worker team will be available from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The goal, city officials said in a statement, is to make the mobile team of social workers available at all times. Seven Counties Services, a Kentucky mental health care nonprofit that staffs the teams, will have 20 dedicated staff members. That will include six crisis triage workers at MetroSafe and 13 mobile response teams.

Seven County Services is still hiring more social workers to meet the city’s 24/7 goal.

The city first launched the Crisis Call Diversion pilot program in March 2022, taking it countywide this March. MetroSafe operators and Louisville Metro Police officers can transfer 911 callers or situations to a “behavioral health hub” within MetroSafe, where a crisis triage worker team can work with the person in danger. Responders can also be sent directly to the scene to de-escalate, assess and connect people with resources. The trained social workers can also provide rides to shelters or community respite centers.

“Individuals experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis deserve a respectful and intentional response that meets them where they are and connects them with ongoing resources that build their resilience in their recovery,” Nicole Wiseman, the program’s unit manager for tSeven County Services, said in a statement.

Louisville Metro first announced the program as cities across the country were looking for ways to respond to mental health crises some believed police weren’t equipped to handle. In their report onLMPD’s discriminatory policing and civil rights violations, the U.S. Department of Justice found that “Louisville Metro and LMPD discriminate against people with behavioral health disabilities when responding to them in crisis.”

Expanding the services of the mobile crisis team and improving coordination between 911 and crisis hotline workers were two of the DOJ’s 36 recommendations to the city.

According to Louisville Metro, the program has resulted in more than 1,400 encounters and 500 mobile runs, with each run lasting just under an hour on average. The mobile teams have helped about 330 unique individuals.

Sylvia is the Capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Richmond, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email her at sgoodman@lpm.org.