LYNN, MASS. (WHDH) - Lynn officials and community advocates are preparing to create a new unarmed team that will respond to some emergency calls instead of police.

“Really, the purpose of this unarmed response team is to prevent escalation and armed escalation” said Neil Whittredge, of the Lynn Racial Justice Coalition. “A lot of times there are situations that could be avoided with armed police showing up to nonviolent calls.”

The LRJC proposed the plan of having mental health professionals and social workers show up to certain calls instead of police and city officials just approved $500,000 to create the team. The goal is to have the pilot program begin next year after responders get special training, officials said.

“Everybody understands, particularly on the issues of homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health issues, that we all deal with those, so what’s the best way for us to handle those issues,” said Mayor Thomas McGee.

“We want to make sure that people with mental illness, drug addiction are getting referred to the services they need and there isn’t this cyclical process of being released and then being arrested for the same issues once again,” Whittredge said. “Prevent harm, unneeded harm to people, especially brown and black lives who are affected much more in interactions with police.”

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