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Adding unarmed crisis response teams is popular in Ann Arbor, but how should they work?

Josh Hakala
89.1 WEMU
Katie Van Dorn, director of Public Sector Consultants, speaks at a public forum about unarmed crisis response teams at the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library on Jan. 9, 2023.

The merging of unarmed crisis response teams and local law enforcement has been a popular topic in recent years. The first of three public forums on how to best implement that program took place on Monday.

The general approach is to have unarmed mental health experts responding to nonviolent calls to supplement what the police currently do. Public Sector Consultants, a non-partisan public policy organization, presented the results of various surveys and discussion groups.

According to the survey, 89% of residents support unarmed crisis response teams and say they believe it will benefit their community.

Kevin Karpiak is an Eastern Michigan University criminology professor who is part of CROS (Coalition for Re-envisioning Our Safety). He says public safety needs to be a full service approach.

“I think mental health crisis is great, and I think it should be one of the priorities, but it’s not the entirety of what this program can be.”

There will be two more forums on the program: Thursday, January 12th at the Pittsfield Branch of the Ann Arbor District Library. The final forum will be online via Zoom on January 19th.

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Josh Hakala is the general assignment reporter for the WEMU news department.
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