Iowa City Police cars now include 988 suicide and crisis lifeline

Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 6:08 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Traveling through Iowa City, you may notice the police cars have a new look to them. Not only are the decals and designs new, but there’s an addition: The 988 national suicide and crisis line is now etched on ICPD vehicles in the same font, size, and location as 911.

The new addition to the cars’ decals is part of a city-wide initiative to make people aware of the lifeline and whom it serves.

“When people are in crisis they don’t always need a police response. The message we want to send out is if you’re in crisis and there’s no criminality involved then maybe 988 is the best option,” said Sergeant Andrew McKnight.

No fundraising was necessary for the new look. Every so often the department gets new decals anyway. This time around it was simply a matter of prioritizing mental health on the same level as 911-related emergencies.

“We put together a committee to look at what we could do for the designs of the police vehicles and we’ve got a design that we think is nice,” said Sergeant McKnight.

Not only do they hope people will be able to better memorize the number, but also ask questions about its purpose if they are unfamiliar.

“If someone is at imminent risk, they have a plan, a means and a time frame to carry out lethal harm to themselves or others, that would be a call that’s more appropriate for 911,” said Community Crisis Helpline Director, Ryan Dickson. “If you are in emotional distress, need somebody to talk to, or are having suicidal thoughts, that would be an appropriate time to call 988.”