St. Pete’s CALL program serves more than 3,000 people in first year, City Council extends program

The Community Assistance and Liaison for Life (CALL) pilot program was created to improve the response to mental health and social service calls.

The program is a partnership with the St. Petersburg Police Department, and it allows dispatchers to redirect social workers and other mental health professionals to non-violent, non-emergency mental health-related calls.

“It’s a great way to move forward in providing the right kind of response for these types of mental health issues, addictions, and often economy-related service calls,” Megan McGee said. of the St. Pete police. “They’re not criminal. They’re not violent. There’s no need for law enforcement to respond to those types of calls.”

Since the program began in February 2021, CALL has served over 3,000 people, made over 5,400 contacts (a combination of live calls, follow-ups and referrals), and received over 1,000 agent referrals.

The CALL team said that when a social worker responds, it helps to de-escalate the situation, which then allows them to develop an appropriate plan.

“We are here to separate mental health and law enforcement,” said Tianna Audet, CALL Team Program Director. “You know, a gun and a badge can’t do much. And, you know, we step in with our skills and that’s, you know, to help anybody who needs social services.”

Due to the success of the pilot program, the St. Petersburg City Council voted to renew the contract with Gulf Coast for CALL services for two additional years.

Ryan H. Bowman