CHICAGO — A program that has mental health experts — and not just police — respond to people in crisis is expanding to the Southwest Side.
The city’s 911 Alternate Crisis Response and Engagement Program, dubbed CARE, started in September. It created teams of caregivers who are trained to respond to mental health emergencies, connecting residents in need to crisis centers, shelters and other support systems, according to a city news release.
The teams include an officer in plainclothes who is trained in crisis intervention, a paramedic and a mental health professional. So far, they have operated in two areas: One team has covered Uptown, North Center and Lakeview, and the other has covered Auburn Gresham and Chatham.
The program is now expanding with a team covering the Chicago Lawn, Gage Park, West Elsdon and West Lawn area. And starting this week, a Fire Department community paramedic and a mental health clinician from the city’s health department will join each team, according to the city.
That new team will spend several weeks meeting with local groups, community members and health care providers, according to the city. The members will start responding to emergency calls in June.
The teams run 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, responding to relevant calls so residents in crisis have fewer encounters with police.
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