More than a dozen cities are developing “alternative” or “co-response” programs to minimize or eliminate the role of police officers responding to 911 calls involving mental health, homelessness, or substance abuse.
Thirteen cities just finished an eight-week “policy sprint,” coordinated by advocacy groups Everytown For Gun Safety and What Works Cities. The goal was for cities to develop pilot programs or to nudge cities along that have already explored this model of 911 response. A handful of others are testing out programs on their own.
Interest in these programs has grown over the last few years and intensifies each time a video surfaces showing an officer using force during calls that begin with a person in some state of mental health or drug-induced crisis. There are only a few full-fledged programs in the country aimed at sending mental health workers on calls with, or instead of, police officers.