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Across the country, communities try out alternative approaches to public safety

On the "Sound of Ideas," we discuss alternative approaches to public safety. [ChiccoDodiFC/shutterstock]
On the "Sound of Ideas," we discuss alternative approaches to public safety. [ChiccoDodiFC/shutterstock]

If someone is having a mental health or behavioral health crisis, who should answer the call? The police? Or a specially-trained mental health worker? Should we be giving police specialized training to be able to handle these kinds of calls? Or should we send social workers out with police to handle the crisis - something called a "co-response"?

In the last few years, cities have been experimenting with new approaches to public safety, ever since the high-profile killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and most recently in Akron - of Jayland Walker.

The city of Cleveland has been under a consent decree agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice for the last seven years, following a 2014 investigation that found a pattern and practice of excessive use of force by the police. 

One result of the consent decree has been increased crisis intervention training given to Cleveland police officers by the Cuyahoga County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. 

But a new Policy Matters Ohio report released last week looked into how other cities across the country, and even in Ohio, are implementing an approach that reduces the role of police in emergency calls related to mental or behavioral health. 

This hour on the "Sound of Ideas," we're going to learn more about what intervention in Cleveland looks like, by talking to Ideastream's criminal justice reporter, Matt Richmond. 

Later this hour, we'll talk to researchers from Policy Matters to learn more about the so-called care response model to emergency intervention. That's where police are less involved to begin with.

Plus, Ideastream Public Media's Kabir Bhatia searched for the correct pronunciation of "Cuyahoga" in this edition of "OH Really?," our initiative that makes you part of the reporting process.

-Matt Richmond, Reporter, Ideastream Public Media
-Piet Van Lier, Senior Researcher, Policy Matters Ohio 
-Bree Easterling, Public Safety Fellow, Policy Matters Ohio
-Bill Vedra, Director, Cincinnati Emergency Call Center
-Kabir Bhatia, Senior Reporter, Ideastream Public Media 

Rachel is the supervising producer for Ideastream Public Media’s morning public affairs show, the “Sound of Ideas.”