L.A. announces unarmed crisis response program for those experiencing homelessness

Mayor Eric Garcetti says the program will free up police resources for crime-related calls

By Sarah Sinning

LOS ANGELES — In a "first-of-its-kind program," the city of Los Angeles will soon be diverting some non-violent 911 calls related to homelessness away from police and toward trained, unarmed professionals, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced last week.

Starting next month, the Crisis and Incident Response through Community-Led Engagement (CIRCLE) pilot will begin sending outreach workers and mental health professionals to respond to non-emergency calls related to homelessness in the Venice and Hollywood communities. These neighborhoods were selected due to the high concentration of people experiencing homelessness (PEH) and the high volume of calls for service.

While the crisis response teams will be available 24/7 for calls received through the LAPD's 911 system and police non-emergency number, other "proactive" teams will be deployed to the communities each day to build rapport, conduct light sanitation work, de-escalate situations as they arise, and create referrals to local service providers. 

"We are never going to arrest our way out of this crisis," Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a press conference.

He noted the LAPD receives roughly 140,000 calls relating to homelessness every year. The pilot program, he said, would free up police resources to respond to crime-related calls and investigations. 

“CIRCLE will [also] ensure that our unhoused neighbors are met with the compassion and care they deserve, and is another step in the direction toward our ultimate goal: ending homelessness in Los Angeles,” Garcetti said. 

Set to run through June 2022, CIRCLE will cost the city $2.2 million and the county $30 million.


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