Concerns raised over EMS inclusion on mental health crisis teams in Minneapolis council members' proposal

Two advocacy groups are raising concerns over plans for the mental health crisis teams outlined in the budget proposal created by three members of the Minneapolis City Council.

The "Safety for All" plan would shift nearly $8 million out of the Minneapolis Police Department's budget to fund alternative public safety strategies like violence prevention, a mental health crisis team and other smaller crimes and violations enforcement. It would also cap the amount of sworn officers at about 770 officers.

While in favor of the emphasis on mental health, leaders from National Alliance on Mental Illness and Communities United Against Police Brutality expressed concerns over the inclusion of EMS personnel on the response teams.

"EMTs and paramedics do not have extensive training on mental health issues and thus shifting funds will dilute the ability of the teams to meet the needs of people experiencing mental health crises," read the joint letter sent to the city council.

The groups also pointed to possible "mistrust" with paramedics due to the controversial past use of ketamine to sedate some subjects.

In addition, the plan calls for the mental health crisis teams to only respond to "nonthreatening" calls, but NAMI and CUAPB leaders feel this means those teams would not be sent to suicide calls.

"Even in those situations in which a person has threatened others or has a weapon, co-response should be utilized," read the letter. "This would place a mental health professional on the scene and available to take over the call once the scene is safe."

Three major budget plans have been put forth to consider: the mayor and police department's plan, the Safety for All plan, and the "People's Budget," which was created by activists. Hundreds of people voiced their opinions on the plans at a public hearing earlier this week.

The cuty council is working to finalize the budget before the vote on Wednesday.