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In bid to lower law enforcement calls, Flagstaff council approves mental health response unit

The city of Flagstaff has approved a $2.5 million plan to dispatch mental health professionals instead of police officers to certain calls. 

It’s a three-year program that will fund behavioral health specialists and paramedics to respond to specific kinds of calls involving, for example, mental health or public intoxication. 

Police Chief Dan Musselman addressed the City Council.

"What we’re hoping does go away is the calls for the citizens saying hey Wheeler Park is being over-run with intoxicants, we need you guys out here to do something," Musselman said. 

Someone in need of help will be able to call 911 and ask for the mobile unit to respond rather than police.

The program will have certain metrics to measure its success. Those include drops in alcohol-related offenses and declines in the number of people transported to the emergency department for intoxication issues.

Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.