Please read below about the different programs across the country and other developments regarding mental health response.
32 years ago the City of Eugene, Oregon developed an innovative community-based public safety system to provide mental health first response for crises involving mental illness, homelessness, and addiction. White Bird Clinic launched CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) as a community policing initiative in 1989.
The CAHOOTS model has been in the spotlight recently as our nation struggles to reimagine public safety. The program mobilizes two-person teams consisting of a medic (a nurse, paramedic, or EMT) and a crisis worker who has substantial training and experience in the mental health field.
A young program that puts troubled nonviolent people in the hands of health care workers instead of police officers has proven successful in its first six months, according to a progress report.
Since June 1, 2020, a mental health clinician and a paramedic have traveled around the city in a white van handling low-level incidents, like trespassing and mental health episodes, that would have otherwise fallen to patrol officers with badges and guns. In its first six months, the Support Team Assisted Response program, or STAR, has responded to 748 incidents. None required police or led to arrests or jail time.
B-HEARD - the Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division - is part of New York City's commitment to treat mental health crises as public health problems - not public safety issues. For the first time in New York City's history, teams of health professionals - including EMTs/paramedics and mental health professionals - are responding to 911 mental health calls, beginning with a pilot program in East Harlem and parts of north and central Harlem.
Ann Arbor council unanimously supports developing unarmed 911 response program
ANN ARBOR, MI — Ann Arbor is moving forward with developing an unarmed public safety response program to have non-police professionals respond to certain 911 calls.
City Council voted unanimously in favor of the idea Monday night, April 5, directing City Administrator Tom Crawford to work with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office and others to try to establish a program by the end of 2021.
The Community Responder Model
LEAP and CAP propose that cities establish a new branch of civilian first responders, known as “Community Responders.” As envisioned, Community Responders would be dispatched in response to two specific categories of calls for service that do not require police response. First, they could be dispatched to lower-risk 911 calls related to mental health, addiction, and homelessness... Using 911 data from eight cities, this report estimates that between 33 and 68 percent of police calls for service could be handled without sending an armed officer to the scene; between 21 and 38 percent could be addressed by Community Responders; and an additional 13 to 33 percent could be dealt with administratively without sending an armed officer to the scene.
Lynn will set up an unarmed crisis-response team, a $500,000 service to respond to mental health calls instead of police
Lynn plans to establish a crisis-response team for mental health emergencies, which could make it the first city in Massachusetts to finance an alternative to traditional policing... The goal is to begin a pilot program by the start of next year.
“Those who are going through a mental health crisis, that are homeless, they need extra help. But because of the color of their skin, they’re automatically looked at and addressed differently,” said Adriana Paz, president of Prevent the Cycle, a criminal justice advocacy group that belongs to the coalition.