After defining a co-responder team (CRT) and explaining why law enforcement agencies should have such a team, this report recommends four ways to ensure the success of a CRT program and presents three examples of effective co-responder programs across the country.
CRTs pair healthcare professionals with law enforcement officers in responding to calls that involve people who are having either a mental health crisis, are intoxicated, are experiencing homelessness, or have other health or social service needs. The common feature of the CRT model across jurisdictions is the pairing of specially trained law enforcement officers with a mental health crisis worker when responding to calls that involve a person with a mental or physical handicap that requires community services rather than criminal justice processing. Teams may differ by the type of health professional paired with a law enforcement officer. CRTs are trained to provide on-scene crisis de-escalation, screening and assessments, and referrals to ongoing treatment by a mental health professional. The goal of CRTs is to connect people with behavioral problems related to mental illness to ongoing treatment by a mental health professional. Effects of CRTs have reduced the use of force by police, decreased arrests and hospitalizations, and reduced the amount of time officers spend on the call scene. Four recommendations for the development and management of CRTs are to 1) develop cross-system partnerships; 2) outline CRT goals, policies, and procedures; 3) inventory the community’s services and needs; and 4) assess outcomes and performance to determine whether any changes are needed. Brief descriptions are provided of effects of CRT programs of the Boston (Massachusetts) Police Department, the Boulder (Colorado) Early Diversion Get Engaged (EDGE) program, and the Arlington (Massachusetts) Police Department