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The Co-Responder model of criminal justice diversion pairs law enforcement and behavioral health specialists to intervene and respond to behavioral health-related calls for police service. These teams utilize the combined expertise of the officer and the behavioral health specialist to de-escalate situations and help link individuals with behavioral health issues to appropriate services.
The program and team structure varies between locations to best meet the needs of the community and the partnering agencies, taking population density and other available resources into consideration. There are generally two approaches: 1) an officer and behavioral health specialist ride together in the same vehicle for an entire shift, or 2) the behavioral health specialist is called to the scene, and the call is handled together.
On scene, the team works not only to de-escalate the situation, but also provide behavioral health screening and assessment, call disposition planning and referral or linkage to needed services. The planning at the end of the encounter depends on a number of unique factors, and outcomes can range from leaving the individual with necessary resources, transporting the individual to a hospital or walk-in clinic, and providing support and resources for family members and others on-scene.
Programs also follow up with individuals after they leave the initial encounter. This varies by program: some programs follow up as a team, while others send dedicated case management services. Programs often work with other community resources, providing coordination with various systems of care.
Co-Responder Programs also offer formal and informal cross-training between the law enforcement and behavioral health disciplines that generally leads to greater understanding and shifts agency culture.
DownloadCo-Responder Program DescriptionUpdated July 2020
Frequently Asked Questions
The Co-Responder model pairs law enforcement and behavioral health specialists to respond to behavioral health related calls for police service. These teams utilize the combined expertise of the officer and the behavioral health specialist to de-escalate situations and help link people with behavioral health issues to appropriate services.
No. While they all have the same basic elements, there are different approaches programs can take to meet the needs of the community in the most efficient way. The two most common approaches are:
If your community has a Co-Responder Program, you can always ask for a co-responder or mental health team response if you call your local police department or 911 because of a behavioral health crisis or matter.
Please keep in mind that availability of the programs vary by agency. If the team is not available to respond, your local police department may have Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officers available who can respond, in which case you may request that a “CIT officer” respond if available. To learn more about CIT in Colorado, please visit https://www.citac.co.
If there is no active behavioral health emergency, you can reach out to the police department directly and ask for more information.
Most of the Co-Responder Services are funded from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund (39-28.8-501 C.R.S). There are four ways Co-Responder Services are funded.
In total, OBH funds programs in 23 different counties, covering more than 50 communities. More than 55 law enforcement agencies across the state participate in co-responder programs. The following counties currently have Co-Responder Programs:
Adams County: Westminster Co-Responder Program at Westminster Police Department in partnership with Community Reach Center
City and County of Broomfield: B-CORE at Broomfield Police Department in partnership with Community Reach Center
City and County of Denver:
Delta County: Center for Mental Health Co-Responder Program, a partnership between the Center for Mental Health and Delta County Sheriff’s Office
Douglas County: Douglas County Crisis Response Team (CRT), a partnership between Douglas County, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Parker Police Department, Castle Rock Police Department and Caring Communities, LLC
Eagle County: Eagle County Co-Responder Program, a partnership between Vail Police Department, Avon Police Department, Eagle Police Department, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Eagle County Paramedic Services, and the Hope Center.
El Paso County
Fremont County: Canon City Co-Responder Unit at Cañon City Police Department in partnership with Solvista
Lake County: Solvista Co-Responder Program, a partnership between Solvista, Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Leadville Police Department
Mesa County: Crisis Support Team at Grand Junction Police Department in partnership with Mind Springs Health
Montrose County: Center for Mental Health Co-Responder Program, a partnership between the Center for Mental Health and Montrose Police Department
Pitkin County: Pitkin Area Co-Responder Team (PACT), a partnership between Pitkin County Public Health, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, Aspen Police Department, Snowmass Village Police Department, and Mind Springs Health
Pueblo County: CIT Co-Responder Program, a partnership between Health Solutions and Pueblo Police Department
Summit County: System-Wide Mental Assessment Response Team (SMART) at Summit County Police Department, covering all of Summit County including municipalities
Southeast Mental Health Services Co-Responder Program: A partnership with Southeast Mental Health Services serving Otero, Prowers, Crowley and Baca Counties. Participating law enforcement agencies include the following: Rocky Ford Police Department, Otero County Sheriff’s Office, La Junta Police Department, Prowers County Sheriff’s Office, Lamar Police Department, Granada Police Department, Crowley County Sheriff’s Office, Baca County Sheriff’s Office, Springfield Police Department and Walsh Police Department.