St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter's proposed 2020 budget would take money from the police department's mental health unit and give it to the fire department.
Carter allocated $500,000 for the police department in 2019 to pay for three new mental health officers and community mental health provider contracts, according to the city's finance department. The 2020 budget, if approved, would move existing contracts to the fire department for a similar mental health co-responder model.
The fire department will implement "new mental health response protocols ... to more appropriately respond to mental health emergencies within a recognized vulnerable population," according to a presentation that interim fire Chief Butch Inks gave at a City Council budget committee meeting Wednesday.
"This is a new addition for us, and it's a work in progress," he said.
Council President Amy Brendmoen called the shift between police and fire a "surprise move" and asked for a full report on the change.