Last year the city of Indianapolis opened the Reuben Engagement Center, a treatment facility for people experiencing homelessness, mental illness and addiction.
City officials Thursday announced some IMPD officers are now able to refer citizens to the center.
The pilot program, available to officers in the Downtown District, is part of Mayor Joe Hogsett’s larger criminal justice reform effort. It’s an attempt to divert people away from hospital visits and a criminal arrest if they need medical attention that wouldn’t be addressed in those places.
Paul Babcock is director of the Office of Public Health and Safety. He says certain groups have referred people to the center since it was created, but says police are in a special position to help.
“They’re the ones who encounter homeless individuals on a regular basis, and they have the best knowledge, skills and experience to really implement this and identify what works and what needs to change,” Babcock says.
Babcock says they hope to expand the program to all IMPD officers after assessing results from the pilot program.