top of page

Learn more about care response

Care response has been around for more than 30 years, but many cities are just starting to invest in care response programs and their implementation. Northeast Ohio has been developing better mental and behavioral health crisis services in recent years, but we have more work in front of us in order to create a functional care response program.


What do people in crisis say they actually need or want when it comes to a crisis response and follow-up services?

Policy Matters Ohio coauthored a community survey and report asking community members who are frequent clients of crisis response services what they think about a specialized behavioral health response.

cahoots van.jpg

CAHOOTS in Eugene, OR is often referenced as the longest-standing and most respected care response programs in the country.

Learn more about how White Bird Clinic, Lane County, and the City of Eugene partner to deliver care response to those facing houselessness, addiction, and mental health challenges.


People with mental or behavioral health diagnoses are more likely to be injured or killed in encounters with police than people without such diagnoses.

Harvard Law took a look at the legal and municipal benefits to instituting care response programming.


What does this mean for northeast Ohio? Policy Matters Ohio looked at local needs, resources, and opportunities.

As other programs are developed in cop response and co-response programming, now is the time for northeast Ohio to consider care response programming as well.

Current events in care response

Shaker’s pilot Mental Health Response Program gets a look from new county executive

March 21, 2023

Ronayne attended the March 13 Shaker Heights City Council work session, where a program update was provided by social worker and clinician Annette Amistadi. She has been working full-time with city first responders since November.
“Just reviewing the numbers, it looks to me like you’re saving lives,” Ronayne told Amistadi, noting that he planned to hire a new sheriff in a matter of weeks.

“I’ve seen an opportunity to scale this program to de-escalate situations and find a way to get this further presented to our partners in the county, like the chiefs’ associations.”

[Amistadi] added that one of the goals of having a social worker on board -- as well as an intern starting in May -- is to provide outreach, intervention and prevention of return visits by patients, with other referrals considered.

It’s a far cry from previous responses, Shaker Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney told council.

He noted that while his department is well-trained in lifesaving skills, they have have “minimal training in behavioral health issues.” This used to lead to often “cyclical” trips to area emergency rooms for ongoing problems that weren’t being addressed -- at least until the arrival of Amistadi, MetroHealth and another partner, Recovery Resources.

Read more

Make our streets less dangerous by making mental health part of police response

February 8, 2023

Then-Police Chief Jeff DeMuth, who retired at the end of last year, told 3News a year ago that Shaker Heights has seen a rise in mental health-related calls and that police officers, “are not trained to be social workers. They get just a very basic amount of training in regards to responding to mental health type calls.”

Around the country, dispatching officers to handle situations for which they are ill-prepared has resulted in the death of innocent people and can cost taxpayers millions of dollars, The Atlantic magazine reports.

Read more

Sending Help Instead of the Police in Albuquerque

February 4, 2023

Albuquerque Community Safety has fifty-four full-time crisis responders, who now field most of the calls related to mental-health and homelessness that previously would have gone to police officers or other first responders. The department was created in 2020, during the national reckoning over police violence sparked by the killing of George Floyd, and began operating a year later.

Between a quarter and a half of people killed by police in the U.S. are in the midst of a mental-health crisis. Removing cops from such situations has special significance in Albuquerque, where a pattern of excessive force by police officers, particularly in dealing with people with mental illness, has persisted for decades. The Albuquerque Police Department has been in a consent decree with the Department of Justice since 2014, longer than nearly any other law-enforcement agency.

Read more

Don’t send those in need of addiction and mental health treatment to jail

January 25, 2023

We are at a crossroads of opportunity in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. Continue forward on the same path? Continue to fail our residents. Let’s instead empower our new County Executive Chris Ronayne to make our communities safer, save money, and provide our residents appropriate care.

Read more

Cleveland needs to move to care response model for emergency crisis calls: Joan Englund

November 9, 2022

Cleveland police continue to face problems reaching staffing goals. Care response, proven effective elsewhere, would allow the officers we have to focus on crime.

Read more


Numbers show how seldom police have utilized Cuyahoga County Diversion Center

November 1, 2022

Cuyahoga County Council is considering a move to invest $4.3 million to keep the Diversion Center open for another year, which would offer police an option to help offenders avoid a jail cell.

But law enforcement hasn’t been using the facility much since it opened on East 55th Street in Cleveland in May 2021.

Police have only made about a quarter of the referrals, or 141 of the 545 people who have obtained treatment there through Sept. 6. The others walked in on their own or were referred there by friends or family members, according to Allyse Hawkins, clinical director of the Oriana House Inc., which operates the facility with the county’s Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board.

Read more


Supporting Cuyahoga County with a diverse behavioral health care workforce

October 29, 2022

During the prolonged times of isolation and stress, many people started to realize mental health was something that needed to be prioritized at the community level. However, like other areas in the healthcare industry, the behavioral health care workforce has been struggling to keep up with the population’s needs.

Read more

Survey shows need for "care response" for Clevelanders experiencing crisis

October 24, 2022

Today, Policy Matters Ohio and REACH NEO released findings from a survey of Clevelanders directly impacted by policing and emergency response. The survey paints a complex picture of what happens when first responders show up on emergency calls for people in crisis, including those experiencing mental and behavioral health issues, homelessness, substance use and withdrawal.

Read more

Non-police care response: a step toward transformative justice

October 18, 2022

Local advocates and service providers are calling on the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to implement non-police care response that would send emergency medical technicians, social workers, mental health clinicians or trained peers with lived experience to provide support and compassion.

Read more

ADAMHS Board grants $4.4 million to keep St. Vincent psychiatric emergency department open in 2023

October 12, 2022

Without the funding, St. Vincent’s psychiatric emergency department-- the only emergency department specifically for patients having mental health crises in Cuyahoga County — would have closed in November, when the hospital ends inpatient, surgical and emergency room care.

Read more

Experts Say Adopting a 'Care Response' Model for Non-violent Emergency Calls Would Benefit Cleveland Residents, Police and Bottom Line

August 30, 2022

The City of Cleveland should immediately begin to scale up a mobile crisis response pilot program that reduces reliance on police for those experiencing mental or behavioral health challenges, according to a new report published by Policy Matters Ohio, the Center for Community Solutions and the Mental Health & Addiction Advocacy Coalition (MHAC). 

Known as "care response," unarmed models for responding to non-violent calls that prioritize the health of the person experiencing a crisis have led to enormous cost savings for the cities that deploy them.  Moreover, they result in fewer deadly interactions with law enforcement. The report notes that police across the United States shot and killed more than 1,000 people in 2021 and are on track to do the same in 2022. At least one in four people killed by police has a severe mental illness.

Read more

Cleveland advocates make the case for non-police response to mental health crisis calls

August 29, 2022

Every Cleveland Division of Police officer gets yearly training. Some years it’s on suicide prevention or responding to calls about homeless people or other training that falls under the category of crisis intervention.

Some officers volunteer for more extensive training and become specialized Crisis Intervention officers. But the department has fallen far short of finding enough officers to fill that role. 

Read more

How the 988 national mental health crisis helpline works in Northeast Ohio

July 27, 2022

The United States has launched a new national suicide and crisis hotline, 9-8-8. The new three-digit number is being used in place of the old 1-800 number. This number is easier to remember, and centralizes where people can call for help. It also aims to make mental health care more accessible to everyone in the United States.

Read more

Why police are the wrong first responders for a mental health crisis: Leslie Kouba

February 23, 2022

For those in mental or behavioral health crises, blaring sirens and uniformed officers can escalate the situation. Being put in a cruiser for transport to an emergency room can push a person over their edge, and what started out as assistance devolves into dangerous restraint, alarming arrest, humiliating handcuffs or worse. Tanisha Anderson comes to mind. In 2014, Anderson’s family called Cleveland police to help her during a mental-health episode. She ended up handcuffed and slammed to the ground, where she died.

Read more

Cleveland needs a ‘care response’ to those in mental health crisis

February 11, 2022

With support from the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board, Cleveland can join communities across the country in implementing a health-first crisis response model that recognizes mental health crises as health emergencies requiring medical attention.

Read more

Peer support: how ordinary Ohioans are helping others break mental health barriers

February 4, 2022

Thrive employs peer supporters to help people reduce social isolation and address their mental health needs as the foundation necessary to recover their economic and personal health.

Read more

Mayor Justin M. Bibb Reverses Prior Roadblocks to Expand use of Diversion Center

from Cleveland City Hall

January 14, 2022

Mayor Justin M. Bibb announced a plan to expand the use of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Diversion Center for non-violent offenders and to refocus City resources to fight violent crime.  

Read more

We need a communitywide solution for improved behavioral health, addiction services, by Dr. Akram Boutros, CEO of MetroHealth

November 15, 2021

No one who works in this area believes that the current system (1) receives adequate funding, (2) is sufficiently seamless for the clients, (3) helps all who need help, or (4) has no room to improve outcomes.

To change that, we must revisit the framework that experts from the Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board, Center for Community Solutions, Frontline Service, Greater Cleveland Congregations, Mental Health & Addiction Coalition, The MetroHealth System, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Recovery Resources, Stella Maris, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, and United Way of Greater Cleveland developed over 20 months ago.

Read more

Use ‘health-first’ approach for those in mental health crisis

November 14, 2021

Cuyahoga County Council President Pernel Jones Jr. and Lori D'Angelo, executive director of Magnolia House, call for a "care response" model for those in mental health crisis.

Read more

Shaker coalition asks city to drop police from pilot mental health response program

April 27, 2021

A group of 20 residents has asked the city to rethink its pilot program for mental health crisis response in order to eliminate police involvement.

Read more

bottom of page