CIRCLE: Unarmed professionals respond to nonviolent 911 calls in LA as part of expanded pilot program

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — In Los Angeles, a year-long experiment is expanding in which mental health response teams are deployed to respond with nonviolent police calls involving homeless people.

Urban Alchemy is a group whose governmental mission is to help people living on the streets. The organization has assembled teams to work with the city through the Community-Led Engagement program (CIRCLE) for crisis and incident response.

When a 911 call comes in to deal with a non-violent homeless situation, the CIRCLE team is dispatched.

The teams consist of a licensed psychiatrist and an outreach social worker. They call her a community ambassador. Following teams in Hollywood and Venice last year, additional teams are heading to East Los Angeles, parts of the San Fernando Valley and South Los Angeles.

dr Lena Miller is with Urban Alchemy. She says: “If people are just regulated on the street when they are in a crisis, they can meet them in those moments with a sense of calm, with patients, with compassion and without judgement.”

So how do teams gain the trust of the men and women who approach them on the street? Many of the CIRCLE members know what these people are going through.

For example, Ronda Briggs says she was homeless and lived on the streets. She says she has lived on the same streets she used to call home for 16 years, working with those who seek help get off the streets.

“When they see a team member like me and some of my other team members who are familiar with them, they’re more likely to talk to us, confide in us, and share with us their deeper needs, wants, and their desires,” Briggs said.

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved. CIRCLE: Unarmed professionals respond to nonviolent 911 calls in LA as part of expanded pilot program

Laura Coffey

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