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Mayor Garcetti announces expansion of LA's unarmed response program

CBS News Live
CBS News Los Angeles Live

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on Monday that the CIRCLE Program, engineered around diverting nonviolent 911 calls away from law enforcement, would be expanding throughout Los Angeles. 

The program, Crisis and Incident Response through Community-Led Engagement (CIRCLE), initially launched in January in Hollywood and Venice. Instead of sending law enforcement officials to all 911 calls, CIRCLE diverts nonviolent 911 calls related to homelessness to trained and unarmed professionals.

With the expansion, it will now also operate in Downtown LA, Lincoln Heights, South LA and the Northeast Valley. 

"CIRCLE is about strengthening the human bonds that are essential to public safety, and using a nonviolent response to homelessness so that we can help, not punish, our most vulnerable Angelenos," Garcetti said. "The expansion of this program will ensure that our unhoused neighbors are met with the compassion and care they deserve, and is another step toward our ultimate goal: ending homelessness in Los Angeles."

Teams respond to calls 24/7, and since its launch, CIRCLE has responded to nearly 12,400 incidents. 2,300 of of those were calls diverted to the program. Calls are traditionally responded to by two outreach workers and one mental health clinician. 

"Proactive teams are deployed in areas of high need within each CIRCLE area for eight hours a day, seven days a week," a statement from Mayor Garcetti's office said. "The teams proactively de-escalate situations and provide sustained outreach, connection to resources, and engage in light sanitation services."

Additionally, the program has a call center, proactive outreach teams and decompression centers. 

The program received $8 million to expand in the 2022-23 budget. The expansion is slated to begin in December with the Foothill, Mission and Van Nuys division of the Los Angeles Police Department. 

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