Seattle Councilwoman Lisa Hebold announced last week that the city is hiring six people to fill its new unarmed “crisis responders” team responsible for answering certain 911 calls.
The new dual-dispatch system has been in the works since 2020 and aims to dispatch non-police workers to suspects experiencing mental health crises. In an interview for City Inside/Out: Council Edition, the Democrat councilwoman explained that the police will be aware of the dispatch and on standby if the crisis worsens.
“Well, you know, usually I’m complaining about how delayed we are and how frustrated I am that we’re not meeting our benchmarks for developing this program,” explained Hebold. “But today I’m really, really happy to report that the city is hiring for the six positions for its first pilot alternate response team. It’s going to be a way for 911 operators to dispatch calls to somebody other than police, somebody other than fire, a crisis responder who is unarmed.”
According to Fox News, the 911 Dual Dispatch/Alternate Crisis Response project was allocated $1.6 million from the government earlier this month as a supplemental budget and was developed in response to the city’s campaign to defund the police in August 2020.
Reportedly, the campaign fired 100 officers from the police force and pulled $3 million from its $400 million budget in order to make the project feasible.
The program hopes to deploy mental health professionals to emergency calls involving a person having a mental or behavioral health crisis so the police can be more readily able to respond to other emergencies.
“The Crisis Response Team focuses on taking a holistic approach to law enforcement encounters with persons experiencing behavioral health issues,” explains the government website. “Whether responding to in-progress calls or conducting follow-up, the goal of the Crisis Response Unit is to divert individuals from the traditional criminal justice system and redirect them to the most appropriate resources.”
News of Seattle’s plan sparked criticism on social media from people who fear the worst. Responding to a clip of Hebold’s announcement first shared by journalist Katie Daviscourt, Ari Hoffman, an editor and writer, posted a meme featuring two smug police officers:
“Watching the social worker try to ‘de-escalate’ the ‘unarmed’ 6’3, 280 pound, buck naked psycho swinging around a metal pole,” it reads.
Others, like political commentator Beth Dutton, responded sarcastically: “What could possibly go wrong?”
Statistics released by the Seattle Police Department earlier this year report that crime is at an all-time high in the Democrat-run city. According to Seattle Police Department’s Year-End Crime Report, homicides saw a 24% increase after Democrats cut police funding by nearly 17% in 2021.
Additionally, as outlined by Daily Caller, crimes of rape and aggravated assault saw a 5% increase and 1,596 more motor vehicle thefts were reported than a year prior, resulting in a 4% increase in crime in 2022.