HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – City council members approved their 2022 fiscal budget Thursday but before the meeting, the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council sent them some suggestions.
The HPCAC sent a letter to the city council, Police Chief Mark McMurray, and Mayor Tommy Battle outlining their recommendations saying that as the city grows, so do the needs of the community.
The letter notes that non-violent, behavioral issues represent a significant number of calls to law enforcement.
It recommends the City of Huntsville continue to build a comprehensive behavioral health system for its citizens.
This system includes training for 911 and crisis hotline personnel and an expansion of the crisis intervention training program for police officers.
Their specific recommendations were to incentivize a 40-hour crisis intervention training program as a requirement for police officer promotion and to create a new mobile response team with a mental health care clinician, social worker, and a paramedic with a fully equipped van for care and transport of citizens to the crisis diversion center.
HPCAC says this will allow co-response teams to handle more calls.
Other recommendations were to track calls and outcome data, create a bi-annual report for citizens on the cost and benefit of co-response and mobile response teams, and an expansion of the co-response and mobile response network.
During the meeting, the city council approved the construction of a new public safety training complex costing the city $14 million. They are also allocating $1.2 million for Wellstone Behavioral Health.
Critics say while this is a start, it’s not enough to address the underlying problems with HPD.
The HPCAC says these recommendations are crucial for the continued growth and development of Huntsville.