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Some mental health 911 calls going to crisis pros rather than Pima County deputies
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Some mental health 911 calls going to crisis pros rather than Pima County deputies

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Deputies will no longer respond routinely to mental health crisis calls, the Pima County Sheriff's Department said.

Unless there's an immediate criminal, medical or safety issue, mental health calls are now being diverted to a crisis line staffed by professionals who decide how to best handle the situation, the department said.

The staffers are trained in how to deescalate or stabilize someone in crisis, and will assess whether a mental health crisis team should be dispatched.

The new set-up relieves deputies of having to make such decisions on their own.

"In the traditional 911 model, first responders would have been dispatched to the scene and once on scene would have been expected to identify the need for crisis care, then request the appropriate resources — all of which causes care delays," the department said in a news release.

The Tucson Police Department has a similar program in place.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at 573-4138 or calaimo@tucson.com. On Twitter: @AZStarConsumer

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