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Orlando will bolster and extend OPD's Community Response Team

Orlando Police Department. Photo: City of Orlando
Orlando Police Department. Photo: City of Orlando

The Orlando City Council voted Tuesdsay to expand and extend a pilot program that dispatches mental health teams in response to certain non-criminal 911 calls.

The Community Response Team is designed to reduce police involvement in non-violent incidents better handled by a mental health professional. It was approved in December 2020 and became active the following March.

Mayor Buddy Dyer said the city will extend its contract with Aspire Health Partners by 18 months -- until March 2024 -- and add two full-time positions, including a mental health counselor in the communications center.

"Our trained professionals," Dyer said, "have responded to a little over 1,300 calls for service, largely those of residents in mental crisis or attempted suicide or suffering from substance abuse."

The new contract adds $117,047 a year, bringing the annual cost to $588,453.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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