Co-Responder Programs

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.

Co-Responder Program Description
Updated July 2020

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Frequently Asked Questions