Meglio, Merton Interview – Podcast April 12, 2021

A More Effective, Efficient Alternative To Policing. Though “defunding the police” has become politically divisive rhetoric, it’s true that the majority of incidents that generate 911 calls are better handled by responders other than the police. Amy Meglio and Sam Merton join the show to discuss their plans for the Neighborhood Organized Crisis Assistance Program (NOCAP), a program similar to CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets), which has operated successfully in Eugene, Oregon for nearly 30 years.

According to the guests, NOCAP is based on responding to non-violent, non-criminal 911 calls with teams consisting of an EMT or other medical professional and an experienced behavioral specialist. Not only are they better capable of dealing with the vast majority of calls. They can do so more efficiently and inexpensively than law enforcement.

For example, Meglio reports that each year approximately 60,000 of the 911 calls in Phoenix are for welfare checks – family members or neighbors who are concerned that they have not seen or heard from someone as expected. Many other calls involve mental illness, drug abuse, trespassing, and similar non-violent situations that are too often escalated by the presence of law enforcement. In such cases, it’s important that responders are non-judgmental and non-threatening. People in crisis need to trust that the responders are there to help them. Not to control them and incarcerate them.

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