This report highlights three communities—Eugene, Oregon; Olympia, Washington; and Phoenix, Arizona—that employ unique approaches to reduce police involvement in crisis calls and have layered several approaches in their efforts to address multiple problems:

  • In Eugene, Oregon, the Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS) program, housed in the White Bird Clinic, dispatches teams of mental health clinicians with a medic to respond to calls involving someone in crisis when safety is not an issue.
  • Olympia, Washington, has introduced complementary initiatives to help people in crisis, including the Crisis Response Unit (CRU), which is modeled after CAHOOTS, and Familiar Faces, which provides peer outreach to people who are repeatedly coming to the attention of police.
  • In Phoenix, Arizona, which has a comprehensive crisis response apparatus as well as a CIT program, 911 call-takers and dispatchers can refer crisis-related calls to a crisis line specialist who manages crises and makes referrals over the phone or deploys mobile crisis teams as needed, instead of police.

The case studies in this report are based on a review of the literature on police responses to people in behavioral health crisis, interviews with experts, and interviews with stakeholders in the highlighted communities. Communities were selected for their innovative approaches to reducing on-scene police response and shifting responsibility to behavioral health experts. You can read more about the methodology below.


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