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Louisville’s 911 call deflection program expands service hours

From left to right: Councilman Ben Reno-Weber,  Seven Counties Services deflection unit manager Nicole Wiseman, Mayor Craig Greenberg
Giselle Rhoden
Mayor Craig Greenberg and other city leaders announced the expanded service hours for the Deflection Program.

The city’s emergency call deflection program will soon expand its services to a 16-hour model from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. It connects people who are experiencing mental health crises with non-police services.

Louisville Metro Government’s Crisis Call Diversion Program, which sends certain 911 calls to a team trained in mental health crisis intervention, will expand its service hours. People who are experiencing a mental health crisis can call to speak with a non-police responder from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week, beginning Feb. 4.

After first extending its hours in June last year, city officials announced the latest expansion at a news conference Tuesday.

By Feb. 4, Seven Counties Services, a statewide behavioral health service provider, will add 34 more staff members to the deflection response team, including 11 crisis triage workers, who counsel people remotely, and 19 mobile crisis responders, according to a statement from city officials.

According to Louisville Metro, the MetroSafe 911 Center deflected more than 1,800 calls from Louisville Metro Police Department to the deflection program last year. The mobile crisis response team also made more than 700 runs to assist people.

“This has been an incredibly important and successful program already in its short time in existence,” said Mayor Craig Greenberg during the news conference.

The city launched the program county-wide in March last year, following a year-long pilot program in LMPD’s fourth division.

Under the deflection program, 911 operators can divert calls to a “behavioral health hub” within MetroSafe, where crisis triage workers will provide emotional support and create a safety plan for the person experiencing a mental health crisis to deescalate the situation.

If necessary, those triage workers may send a mobile crisis responder to further deescalate in person and connect the caller with services to a treatment facility, hospital or other community resources.

“Our team meets the client where they are literally and figuratively. Hence why one of the main components of the program is that it is voluntary,” said Nicole Wiseman, Seven Counties’ deflection unit manager. “Decisions are made with the person in crisis and not for the person in crisis.”

Ultimately, officials hope to offer the program 24 hours a day. Wiseman said Seven Counties is hiring more social workers to achieve that.

Greenberg said more mental health workers to assist people in crisis also allows LMPD officers to focus on responding to violent crime in the city.

Funding for the expansion will come from MetroSafe’s budget approved by Louisville Metro Council last year.

Giselle is LPM's breaking news reporter. Email Giselle at grhoden@lpm.org.