Advocates want Raleigh to send unarmed responders to some 911 calls
A coalition of civil rights groups wants Raleigh to create a crisis intervention program that diverts non-violent 911 calls to unarmed responders.
The proposal is similar to Durham's HEART (Holistic Empathetic Assistance Response Teams) program, which sends unarmed responders to non-violent 911 calls like mental health crises. The Durham city council voted to expand that program this year after it responded to more than 8,000 calls in a little more than a year.
Kerwin Pittman of the group Emancipate NC said that can prevent some violent or deadly interactions with police and save resources.
"We definitely know that this program, if implemented correctly, will save lives," Pittman said.
Raleigh currently has a program called ACORNS (Addressing Crises through Outreach, Referrals, Networking, and Service) that pairs a law enforcement officer with a social worker for certain calls, but Pittman said an unarmed responder would be more effective in non-violent situations.
"Law enforcement is not equipped to handle these types of calls for service where individuals are having mental health crises, and so it just only makes sense to pair individuals who are having these different crises with the right professionals," Pittman said.
The Raleigh City Council has agreed to create its own alternative response program and is taking public comment about what residents think it should include until March 10.