around the country
How are other cities and regions addressing the need for non-police crisis response? Here are a few examples.
Behavioral Health 911 Diversion Program: Baltimore, MD
Who responds?: The program operates as a coalition, with street response provided by Baltimore Crisis Response Inc. BCRI mobile crisis teams, which include psychiatrists, social workers, and nurses.
How do they receive a call?: Specialist dispatchers at city 911 route specific call types to a mental health specialist. That specialist has the ability to dispatch a mobile crisis team rather than police as first responders.
What happens?: BCRI teams use unmarked vehicles and meet clients in their home or any public place to provide assessment, intervention, treatment, and connection to services.
Who pays for it?: The pilot program was established through state funding, and grants allocated to BCRI. The City of Baltimore received a federal grant in 2022 to expand the pilot.
How does it help the city?: There are cost savings for public safety services, but also, in building this cohort of providers and connections between provider organizations, Baltimore entities have been able to more effectively share data, develop best practices, and provide a right-sized response to every call.
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STAR: Denver, CO
Who responds?: Mental healthcare professionals, alone or accompanied by police in Denver's STAR (Support Team Assisted Response) program
How do they receive a call?: City 911 dispatch routes appropriate calls to STAR alone, or STAR + a police presence, or just Denver PD
What happens?: Calls centered in mental health and houselessness are responded to without a police presence and with resources to access further health or housing assistance
Who pays for it?: The pilot was established by the Caring for Denver Foundation; a dedicated stream of public funding was approved by voters following a 2018 ballot measure
How does it help the city?: In its first six months (the first half of 2021), STAR responded to 700+ calls without police presence, and did not later request police presence to any of those calls
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ARC Pilot Program: Cincinnati, OH
Who responds?: ARC (Alternative Response to Crisis) teams contain a Cincinnati Health Department Behavioral Health Specialist and a Cincinnati Fire Department Firefighter/Paramedic.
How do they receive a call?: Municipal 911 dispatch routes calls that meet predetermined specifications to the ARC team.
What happens?: ARC teams provide clinical de-escalation, medical assessment, crisis intervention, transportation, connections to community resources and basic needs like food and clothing.
Who pays for it?: The program is internal to existing services and paid for through city public safety spending.
How does it help the city?: One goal of the ARC Response Team is to de-escalate situations, or avoid unnecessary escalation, by responding as an alternative to law enforcement. Another goal is to collect data on service needs, in terms of time or day, day of week, geography; this would inform decisions about future service parameters, including the operating hours, response areas, and the number of teams needed to provide citywide coverage.
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Portland Street Response: Portland, OR
Who responds?: PSR teams consist of a firefighter or EMT, a licensed mental health crisis therapist, and two community health workers.
How do they receive a call?: Central dispatch for the city of Portland reroutes appropriate calls to the PSR team.
What happens?: PSR is equipped to respond to a variety of non-violent mental and behavioral health calls, including connecting the caller to aftercare and continued services.
Who pays for it?: PSR receives some funding from the city public safety budget, the same as the police or EMTs that they work with.
How does it help the city?: PSR responds to a majority of calls in a district where 911 calls were outpacing the rest of the geographical area served by PPD.
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Behavioral Crisis Response, Minneapolis, MN
Who responds?: BCR teams include two unarmed mental health clinicians, who use marked city vans (no squad cars, lights, or sirens).
How do they receive a call?: Teams respond Monday-Friday, 24 hours a day, to mental and behavioral health 911 calls diverted from the municipal 911 program.
What happens?: BCR crisis responders are trained to approach the situation with kindness and respect, de-escalate and calm the situation, and help the individual in crisis. They also provide resources for further support.
Who pays for it?: The city used ARPA funding to establish their BCR pilot. Their City Council allocated funding for BCR in two rounds of ARPA spending. BCR teams are part of the city's public safety budget, run through the Minneapolis Office of Performance and Innovation.
How does it help the city?: Minneapolis partners with Canopy Roots to provide BCR services. Canopy Roots is a private, local, black-owned mental health services organization with deep roots in Minneapolis' least served neighborhoods. They take pride in providing culturally responsive and trauma-informed care.
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Behavioral Health Responders, Albuquerque, NM
Who responds?: BHR teams consist of two non-police responders who both have backgrounds in social work or healthcare.
How do they receive a call?: BHR teams receive calls from and operate inside of the Albuquerque Commnity Safety Department.
What happens?: Teams respond to non-violent, non-medical calls related to mental or behavioral health, substance use, or homelessness.
Who pays for it?: BHR is part of the city public safety budget, the same as other public safety teams.
How does it help the city?: BHR teams focus on resolving the immediate crisis, but also help to connect community members to ongoing resources to help prevent crisis from re-occurring. Albuquerque has Mobile Crisis Teams as well, and further created Community Responders, who assist with minor injuries or accidents, and Street Outreach and Resource Responders, who focus on providing care and access to services for homeless individuals.
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What crisis response services exist in northeast Ohio?
The Cleveland Division of Police works with the ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County to provide Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training to interested police force members. There are currently fewer than 100 CIT officers on the street.
Pilots exist in the City of Cleveland and first ring suburb Shaker Heights that engage social workers with patrol cars responding to certain types of calls.
No non-police alternatives yet exist in northeast Ohio, so there is no way to access crisis care without interacting with the police. We are working hard to help elected officials and organizational stakeholders understand the importance of a non-police alternative.