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Columbus Officials Encouraged By Results Of New 911 Alternative Response Pilot Program

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther
Andrew Welsh-Huggins
Associated Press
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther

Columbus officials announced the results of a new 911 alternative response pilot program.

The Columbus departments of public health, fire and police implemented the Right Response Pilot in May to determine if some 911 calls could be diverted away from the police.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said social workers team up with emergency dispatchers to sort calls from people dealing with issues like addiction and mental health.

"A triage pod housed with a 911 dispatch directs non-emergency callers toward resources and services better suited for the situation," Ginther said.

Columbus Police Commander Dennis Jeffrey said a clinician responds to the triaged calls with compassion.

"That's why this is successful because someone is talking to that person that can really dig deep, find out what's going on and determine, should we send the police, should we send EMS, or is there another alternative that we can send to get that person the help they need," Jeffrey said.

Ginther acknowledged it's still early, but the results look good.

"In many different respects, this has been highly successful," Ginther said. "It's small; we know it's a limited amount of time. But based on the data we have at this point, it's very encouraging."

Sixty percent of calls didn't require an immediate response from police or fire, Ginther added, and about half were redirected to other service providers.