In a context of extreme violence in the city, Chicago announced the implementation of a pilot program, which aims to replace police personnel with paramedics and mental health doctors in certain emergency situations mainly related to violent situations.

The initiative was presented as an “alternative response program” in a context of debate about the role of the police in society following the death of George Floyd by an officer in Minneapolis.

When the program begins to be implemented, for the first time some 911 emergency calls will not be answered by police officers, but by mental health professionals along with paramedics, the Chicago Suntimes reported.

Mental health clinicians will be available at the 911 center to monitor situations, but questions remain as to how well these new responders will be able to reduce the violence that can arise during such calls.

One of the arguments used to make this decision is that many emergency situations are supposedly generated by those involved being intoxicated with high doses of drugs or alcohol. In this context, a health professional could be more useful than a police officer, according to the initiative’s advocates. 

Reality shows that the implementation of the measure comes when the city is suffering an unprecedented exodus of police officers, considerably reducing the number of officers available to meet the growing demand for insecurity. According to police reports, there are at least 10 gang members for every police officer in the city. 

As recently reported by Breitbart News, in total, 363 officers filed for retirement between January and June compared to 339 in all of 2018.

This mass retirement of uniformed officers comes as the city is experiencing a historic spike in violence, armed clashes and homicides.

After three years of falling homicide totals, 2020 ended with 769 homicides, 274 more than the previous year and the most since the 784 homicides in 2016.

Despite this difficult situation, nationally, there continues to be pressure from left-wing groups to withdraw funds from police departments. At the same time, a considerable increase in crime is evident in major cities. Among them, Chicago is one of the hardest hit. 

The policies imposed by Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot respond to these leftist demands, which have largely succeeded in demoralizing officers and scaring off potential recruits with strong anti-police rhetoric.

Mental health clinicians feel that the new arrangements can compensate for those front-line losses and casualties, as they will be available at the 911 center to monitor situations.

How well these new first responders will be able to reduce the violence that can erupt during such calls has yet to be explained or demonstrated.

Health teams will begin responding to calls in August, and authorities will evaluate based on the results to add more professionals if necessary. 

The launch will follow a recent meeting of Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown with President Joe Biden and other security leaders earlier this week.

After the meeting, Brown tweeted, “We need a sense of urgency right now so we can save lives and serious consequences for those driving gun violence in our cities.”

The “urgency” will apparently be met for the time with doctors and health care professionals. Only time will allow us to evaluate the results and draw conclusions. Although a priority, it seems to be a measure promoted by leftist sectors to somehow justify the reduction of security personnel in a complex context loaded with violence. 

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