"It's one of those things we've been talking about for decades. This was a topic when I was first hired 20 years ago," Musselman said, adding that many of the attempts never really worked.
Police department said mental health and low priority alcohol calls accounted for 13% of their call volume.
After officials arrest public intoxicants or people called for mental health reasons, officials can spend hours in the hospital if the arrested person needs more care than the prison can provide. The department's officials spent 480 hours in hospitals with 346 detained in 2019, costing the department $ 24,000.
Musselman said these statistics show the time and money that could be spent with the community or responded to other calls instead of watching over an arrested person in a hospital. He added that his officers were not really trained mental health professionals.
These calls also impact the Flagstaff Fire Department, which has a different call load – 14,750 calls in 2019 compared to the 43,401 police calls in 2019. However, public noise calls made up 18% of the fire's calls, and made behavioral health responses only 2.5 from% of their call volume.
Flagstaff Fire Department chief fire chief Mark Gaillard agreed with Musselman, saying firefighters are often the wrong agency to respond to mental health calls and people who are drunk.