DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Every day in Durham, HEART responders hit the streets, but only in certain regions of the city and only during regular business hours.

Now some city council members want more.

“What I’d like to see is some expansion,” Councilmember Dr. Monique Holsey-Hyman said.

The HEART program, which stands for Holistic Empathetic Assistance Response Teams, sends unarmed trained professionals to respond to crisis calls. They’re trained to handle types of cases that Holsey-Hyman says police should not be responding to.

“There’s evidence that says a lot of the police that are going out on cases, it’s mental health, domestic violence, substance abuse, those are areas that social workers are trained to be able to deal with,” she said.

Councilmember Jillian Johnson says investing in these diversion programs is not a move away from policing, but rather a chance for officers to divert their focus.

“It also frees up our police department to be able to respond to violent crime, which is, of course, the issue that we most want our police department to be dealing with,” Johnson said.

The question of expansion comes down to funding, something both Holsey-Hyman and Johnson say can be handled with re-distributing money to different areas. Johnson says the price tag is worth it to serve the citizens of Durham.

“Minimizing people’s contact with the criminal legal system, whether that’s a police officer or a court or a jail, is always the best option to make sure those people get the help they really need,” she said.

If funding for the program is increased, it would be included in Durham’s next fiscal year budget which would go into effect on July 1.