Dallas Has Been Dispatching Social Workers to Some 911 Calls. It’s Working.


In an effort to break the cycle of the mental health crisis, Dallas police are using social workers in the field and it's effecting change.


RIGHT care is a new service provided by the state of Texas in aiding mental health crisis calls. Emergency police and fire departments are implementing a program where social workers and a team are dispatched to assist these types of cases. Hundreds could benefit, many already are.

The experiment targeted south-central Dallas, an area with the most need. The number of psych patients arriving at hospitals and jails decreased by 20% in 2019 due to this program.

These county emergency rooms and penitentiaries are usually overcrowded; a program like this could change the entire system.

Kurtis Young, the director of social work at Parkland, speaks on the initiative’s results: “We think that was significant enough that this program is having an impact…People now call 911 and ask for the RIGHT Care team.” The RIGHT care program dispatches a special team—made up of a paramedic, a police officer and a social worker—that would respond to calls in South Central Dallas.

The City of Dallas receives 1,500 mental health service calls per month. Each call can result in the dispatch of five police officers, and many of the people with mental health disorders end up in jail. The city plans to expand the RIGHT care program to break these cycles. With the hope that this program can also free up officers to work on more dangerous cases and not just mental health crisis calls.