SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — The City of Shreveport and LSU Health Shreveport on Monday announced they have formed a team of community organizations focused on improving 911 responses involving individuals with mental illness.

The City and LSUHSC in partnership have created an action plan to address the growing mental illness problem in northwest Louisiana. On Monday, Mayor Adrian Perkins, Dr. James Patterson, Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at LSUHSC, Shreveport Police Chief Wayne Smith and LSU Health Shreveport Interim Chancellor Dr. David Lewis, spoke in the Mayor’s Conference Room to address the next steps in improving the local 911 Crisis Response System.

Smith said between January 1 and August 15, there have been 1,691 calls that related to mental health crises in Shreveport. That was the catalyst that sparked the creation of the new crisis response system in the hope of more individuals getting mental health treatment.

“Hopefully together we can make a real impact in our community,” Perkins said.

According to a Friday press release, LSUHSC said that more than 50% of all 911 calls include symptomatic displays of mental illness or mental health disorders. Law enforcement, which receives an average of 900 calls a month, meaning more than 5,000 calls annually, are mental-health based.

According to statistics, from 2019 to 2021, in the City of Shreveport, the violent crimes of homicide, aggravated battery and aggravated assault increased each year between January to May. Officials say these outcomes are indicators of increased distress and deteriorating well-being in the city.

LSUHSC and the Shreveport Police Department were awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Beaurau of Justice Assistance to participate in the Academic Training to Inform Police Response training. Through this training, led by policy research associates, the action plan was developed.

Officials say the action plan provides a treatment-oriented response to mentally ill persons. Improving crisis response will reduce demands on our overburdened law enforcement and public health systems while increasing public and officer safety.