DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF) — Shannon Isom helped lead the Community Engagement Police Reform Group which recommended a Crisis Response Unit be set up in Dayton.
“All community responses don’t have to be police response. And police is wonderful to have. We need them. We know that they are our safety net, but it was unnecessary to use them for all things, and so we needed to have some flexibility within our own response,” said Isom.
On Wednesday, July 26, the city commissioners approved the grant application, dedicating nearly 1.5 million dollars toward creating the Crisis Response Unit. They said this money will be used to replicate the organization of their Mediation Response Unit that is already in place.
“We’ll have one coordinator and six responders, and so three of those six will be licensed clinicians, and we’ll have two teams that can go out into the community to cover all the mental health calls for service that we can handle,” said Michelle Zaremba, Dayton Mediation Center Manager.
The Dayton Mediation Center Manager walked Dayton 24/7 Now’s Abby Forbes through what can be expected when someone calls 911 about a potential mental health situation.
“The police could either be dispatched or the Crisis Response Unit, and so the Crisis Response Unit, one of the benefits for having them respond is they’re not police officers, so the uniform doesn’t escalate the situation, and also there are licensed clinicians on the team,” said Zaremba.
The Crisis Response Unit will differ from the Mediation Response Unit which is already in place. While the Mediation Response Unit focuses on conflict situations, the Crisis Response Unit will focus on mental health situations.
“If it’s nonviolent, non-criminal, giving people an additional option because right now, people think something’s happened, I’m going to call 911 cause that’s the only number they know, so now there’s options with in the 911 system for the city of Dayton residents,” said Zaremba.
They said the Mediation Response Unit has already seen lots of success, and they expect the Crisis Response Unit to have the same.
“I think that we are already on the right road to have what we need but also looking forward that we are going to prospectively continue on this,” said Isom.
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