Atlanta police extend non-emergency help line for mental health crises, extreme poverty

The Atlanta Police Department said it is expanding its Policing Alternatives & Diversion Initiative to increase support of residents experiencing extreme poverty, problematic substance use or mental health concerns.

The aim of the program is to prevent incarceration by addressing problems individuals have before they turn to breaking the law in desperate situations. 

The program is expanded to cover residents in all police zones, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.

PAD receives referrals from law enforcement as well as community referrals through the ATL311 non-emergency services line. Residents call 311 or 404-546-0311 to make a referral. Services are available Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Atlanta Police Department officers may use PAD instead of booking people into ACDC or Fulton County Jail, if the officer determines the law violation is related to a behavioral health need or extreme poverty.

The initiative was initially established in 2017 as an independent nonprofit organization with funding from the city, Fulton County and philanthropic organizations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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