Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti launched the Crisis and Incident Response through Community-Led Engagement pilot program on Nov. 23. The first-of-its-kind program will divert nonviolent 911 calls related to homelessness from law enforcement to trained, unarmed professionals.
“There’s a lot of support around the idea of removing police officers from nonviolent response, and Los Angeles is harnessing that energy to create a model that strengthens the human bonds that are essential to public safety and seeks to help, not punish, our most vulnerable Angelenos,” Garcetti said. “CIRCLE will 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.”
In the 2021-22 fiscal year budget, the city made its largest-ever investment to address homelessness. The nearly $1 billion commitment includes funding for new solutions to reimagine public safety. The CIRCLE program is at the core of the new approach.
Currently, the program has teams deployed in Hollywood and Venice to foster relationships with people experiencing homelessness. Starting next month, the crisis response teams will be available 24 hours to respond to non-emergency calls from the Los Angeles Police Department’s 911 system and the police non-emergency number, (877)LAPD247. Also, additional proactive response teams will be deployed during daytime hours in areas of high need in Hollywood and Venice. The teams will continue to build a rapport with the unhoused community, conduct light sanitation work, de-escalate situations and refer people to local service providers. CIRCLE response staff will not be armed and will not perform any law enforcement duties.
CIRCLE teams are comprised of an outreach worker, mental health clinician or licensed behavioral health clinician, and a community ambassador. Venice and Hollywood were selected as the pilot areas because of a high concentration of people experiencing homelessness and a high volume of police calls for service.
“You couldn’t have a clearer example of this country lacking a robust social safety net than when people with guns show up to respond to a nonviolent, mental health crisis,” said Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez, 6th District. “In 2020, elected officials were called upon by Angelenos to re-evaluate our current approach to public safety and the L.A. City Council met that challenge head on by introducing an unarmed crisis response program. I’m happy to see the city building upon this commitment by launching the CIRCLE pilot program for those experiencing homelessness.”
“We are actively reexamining and updating how we handle the delivery of health services, especially to people who are not only experiencing homelessness, but who are also grappling with mental health and substance abuse issues,” added Council President Pro Tempore Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District. “The CIRCLE program will help us meet people where they are and allow practitioners to thoughtfully respond to people’s complex needs, without compromising public safety.”
The city selected Urban Alchemy, a Los Angeles-based organization that also runs the city’s mobile shower and restroom program and several interim housing facilities, as the service provider for the CIRCLE program.
For information, visit lamayor.org.
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