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Police Response to People With Mental Illnesses in a Major U.S. City: The Boston Experience With the Co-Responder Model.

NCJ Number
Victims & Offenders Volume: 13 Issue: 8 Dated: 2018 Pages: 1093-1105
Melissa S. Morabito; Jenna Savage; Lauren Sneider; Kellie Wallace
Date Published
13 pages
This study explored the development and implementation of the co-response model, both nationally and in Boston, and using quantitative co-responder data, it examined short-term outcomes of the Boston Police Department's (BPD's) co-responder program; next, using qualitative data from officer interviews, this article discusses the perspectives of police officers on the utility and effectiveness of the co-responder approach in Boston.
Like most major city police agencies, the Boston Police Department (BPD) serves a sizeable population of individuals with behavioral health challenges. In 2017, the BPD received a total of 681,546 calls for service; of those, 5,953 calls specifically involved people with mental illnesses. To better meet the needs of these individuals, the BPD has a strong history of working with the Boston Emergency Services Team (BEST) of the Boston Medical Center. This partnership resulted in the creation of the BPD's co-response program, which was launched in January 2011 to team Boston police officers with BEST clinicians. The goal of the program is to provide community-based psychiatric crisis services to stabilize nonviolent persons experiencing psychiatric emergencies, diverting these individuals from arrest and the criminal justice system when appropriate. (publisher abstract modified)