DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines Police have decided not every emergency call needs an officer. Starting this month, mental health emergencies will be met with mental health professionals from Broadlawns Medical Center.

DMPD and Broadlawns have partnered for the Crisis Advocacy Response Effort, or CARE, program. The program expanded on July 5 so that Broadlawns professionals are available 24 hours a day. They were previously only available from 6 a.m. to midnight.

“Mental health trips are a lion’s share of what we do,” said Sgt. Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department. “We go to the domestics and we go to the crashes, but there are a lot of mental health issues where people call the police. Since this program has been in place, they have been keeping busy.”

The CARE program starts with a Broadlawns health professional listening in to emergency calls with the city’s dispatch team. From there, the health expert will recommend what type of response to send to the emergency. Some situations would not require an officer at all.

Parizek believes the strategy will lead to a safer city.

“Mental health crisis sometimes leads to conflict with the law,” Parizek said. “If we can get to the point where we can intervene before it gets put of control, it’s a great thing. It’s great for the person who needs that care and great for the community.”