Alternative Emergency Response: Innovative Approaches to Public Safety
- Issue Areas
- Health and well-being Justice and public safety
- Supportive neighborhoods
About this Sprint
- Even when a police response is unneeded, police officers are typically dispatched in response to 911 calls, taxing already overburdened police forces and, in some cases, endangering the safety of individuals in need of support
- Alternative emergency response programs, like CAHOOTS in Eugene, OR, field teams trained to address residents' mental and behavioral health needs and connect them to community-based supports
- The Alternative Emergency Response Sprint helped cities and community partners learn from peer cities committed to implementing programming to improve emergency response and public safety and advance the implementation of such models
What you'll learn
- Have a firm understanding of the history, available research, and research needs around behavioral health, addiction, poverty, homelessness, and equity in public safety and alternatives to police response for mobile crises
- Be able to identify and analyze dispatch data to better understand how policing affects residents in their city
- Be able to build a working group to explore alternative emergency response models, including non-law enforcement mobile crisis program
- Understand the necessary steps to develop and modify public safety infrastructure to support alternative teams like mobile crisis teams as first responders
- Understand the necessary concrete next steps to implement alternative emergency response models including mobile crisis response
- Lead Partner: White Bird Clinic
Background on community policing, the impact of aggressive policing tactics, and models of public safety that reduce police involvement
US Department of Health and Human Services, Safe Policing for Safe Communities Report, specifically section 3 on Behavioral Health Crisis Care.
Alexander, Why Police Should Embrace Communities, Not Shut Them Out
Cullors and Black, Community-Based Emergency First Responders Explained
Examples from Portland, OR and Denver, CO of how racial equity is central to effective alternative emergency response programs
Kelley, Portland racial equity panel makes first recommendations
Sachs, People who have been demanding police alternatives for years want the city to yield some control of its young program
City of Portland, Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR), Racial Equity Toolkit (RET)
- KGW News, Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty interview
Strategies for diverting those with mental illness away from the criminal justice system
The CAHOOTS program and strategies for taking a public health approach to addressing mental health emergencies
The history of 911 call centers and their impact on public safety
Gillooly, "The Missing Link in Police Reform: 911 Call-Takers"
Pineda, "You can call me a snitch': 911 dispatcher had concerns while watching George Floyd's deadly arrest"
Karma, "Want to fix policing? Start with a better 911 system"
Feldkamp, "The Little Known, Racist History of the 911 Emergency Call System"
- Vera Institute of Justice, Gatekeepers: The Role of Police in Ending Mass Incarceration
Models of transformative justice and methods to center community perspectives in program design
Best practices on using participatory action research to drive decision-making
Strategies to address concerns about risk mitigation, responder and patient safety, and more
Nadrich, “Portland budgets 23% of Street Response Team request”
Banta, “CAHOOTS asks for $1.8M of funding from Eugene’s community safety payroll tax”
Jones, “Levels of Racism: A Theoretic Framework and a Gardener’s Tale”
Urban Institute, “Trauma-Informed Community Building and Engagement”
Rafla-Yuan, Chhabra, and Mensah, “Decoupling Crisis Response from Policing—A Step Toward Equitable Psychiatric Emergency Services”
Center for American Progress, “The Community Responder Model: How Cities Can Send the Right Responder to Every 911 Call”
Equal Measure, "Community Approaches to Systems Change: A Compendium of Practices, Reflections, and Findings"
Groos, et al., “Measuring Inequity: A Systematic Review of Methods Used to Quantify Structural Racism”