This literature review on the co-responder team model presents currently available reports on preliminary data on the collaborative crisis response model, or co-responder team model, which pairs police officers with trained mental health professionals.
This paper reviews preliminary evidence on the co-responder team model, which is a police-based intervention that pairs trained police officers with mental health professionals to respond to incidents involving individuals experiencing behavioral health crisis. The research review is divided into four sections, examining the implementation and impact of co-responder team programs across several communities. The four sections include the definition and implementation of the co-responder team model; the impact of co-responder team programs on individuals in crisis, criminal justice system, and healthcare system; stakeholders’ perceptions of co-responder team programs and opinions on the elements that make the programs successful, and implications for future research and practice. The information presented in this research review show promising effects of the response model in enhancing crisis de-escalation; increasing individuals’ connection to services; reducing pressure on the criminal justice system by reducing arrests and time spent by officers in service calls; reducing pressure on the healthcare system; and promoting cost-effectiveness. The authors do note, however, that the use of this response model across communities has resulted in substantial variation in the definition and delivery of co-responder team programs, in many cases as a result of efforts to tailor the co-response to the specific needs of the communities. This makes it difficult to systematically assess the intervention’s effects. Resource constraints including access to funding, staff, equipment, and behavioral health services also play a role in the co-responder team approach.