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Chicago 911 Police Dispatchers Trained In Mental Health Awareness Following LeGrier Incident

Update Date: Feb 27, 2017 10:32 AM EST

911 is the emergency telephone number for North American Numbering Plan (NANP). Just like other emergency numbers around the globe, this number must be called for emergency circumstances only.  

In Canada and the United States, any person calling 911 using a telephone will be transferred to an emergency dispatch office called a Public-Safety Answering Point (PSAP). After receiving the call, PSAP can send some emergency responders to the location of the caller if there's an emergency happening. In an estimated 96 percent of U.S. residents, the Enhanced 911 system connects caller number with physical address.

In Chicago, all the dispatchers and call takers in the 911 police operations center have undergone a mental health awareness and de-escalation training, as per Chicago Tribune. The main objective of this training is to improve on the way the dispatchers and call takers respond to crisis situations.

Deputy Director of 911 operations Dionne Tate said that since the training, the awareness of their employees has been heightened and they already know what to look for.

The mental awareness and de-escalation training was developed by Office of Emergency Management and Communications of Chicago and collaborate with National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago and Chicago Police Department, as per NBC Chicago. The training was announced Mayor Rahm Emanuel after a fatal shooting of Quintonio LeGrier and neighbor Bettie Jones two months ago.

LeGrier called for help through 911 telling that someone was threatening his life. But the agents who answered the call didn't send a police right away until the third call by LeGrier. One of the officers, LeGrier and - by mistake - Jones were all killed during that incident. Because of this, two 911 dispatchers were suspended without a pay because they failed to send police when LeGrier call for a help.

In a report released last month, U.S. Department of Justice said that the incident is clearly a failure in crisis response systems of CPD. The failure includes dispatchers who did not recognize that LeGrier may be mentally ill and the officers who respond in the incident didn't use techniques in crisis prevention.

Tate said that the call center employees working in 911 department will go through an annual refresher mental health and de-escalation training.

On the other hand, OEMC, Fire Department and Police Department will start a new pilot training program this spring. The focus of the training will be improving collaborations for treating and recognizing someone that is experiencing a mental health emergency. 

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