Funding(Ugh)This is not as expensive as it might seem. Two staff can make a huge difference.GrantsAvailable more and more as we recognize Police-Mental Health CollaborationFeds: SAMHSA, BJAStates: Colorado has eight new grant funded co-responder programs!Private: Denver FoundationGreat way to start and show proof of concept. But they end.Community LeadershipCo-responder programs really do improve quality of life for everybody.They really do save a lot of money overall.See arguments for a co-responder program, next slide.StakeholdersHospitals. GOOMER.Private ambulance services.Medicaid behavioral health organizations—you are saving them hospital dollars.Community mental health centers—maybe they will share staff.InterdepartmentalIf you have to. It’s still worth it.Longmont chose not to replace a couple of retiring detectives to keep their program going.
Hire SquirrelsOne mental health worker is not another, just like one cop is not another.This is a critical point:co-responder work is unlike any other kind of mental health work, even crisis evaluations in the ER.You aren’t looking for a cop-mindset exactly; but you need someone who can work well in a high-stress law enforcement oriented environment. You are looking for apersonality.A Master’s degree and a license guarantee nothing (although they reduce your liability).No one is prepared for this work in grad school.Interviews alone aren’t reliable.Try to do a working interview; get the candidate on the job.Watch out for mental health staff that are just looking for a job and don’t have the constitution to do this work.Watch out for ego and action junkies.I advise against hiring a candidate just because you need to get the ball rolling and they have the credentials.
Lived experience.Different boundaries. They can share their personal lives. In fact, that’s the whole point.Can speak the respondent’s language.Can dress more casually.Can follow up later, and in a well-designed program it’s part of their job.Can do outreach on the street (Helen McNabb, Knoxville, Persistent Pursuit).With good supervision and careful hiring, peers can be as valuable on the street as clinicians—or more.Respondents with substance issues are accustomed to this mindset.Peers do not add as much cost as clinicians.Good co-responser programs make use of this valuable resource.
Miscellaneous Points to RememberSelling to patrol can be a real challenge.It may slow them down a little, but they won’t get call-back in three hours.Over time, a successful co-responser program reduces callsaltogether, especially behavioral health-related calls.They won’t go home feeling feel like crap because a respondent in pain had no professional support and just got left sitting there sad, or drunk, or whatever. Again.You will need someone other than command—preferably a veteran patrol officer who really believes in your program—to informally push the shared agenda.Mental health staff need to attend all briefings when they are in service.Mental health staff should spend as much downtime as possible inside the department.CIT trained officers are preferred here.Keep mental health trainings brief and police-relevant. They don’t need to know what every diagnosis means or what every psych medication does.Dedicated command staff with skin in the game is required.Somebody up there has to want this and be willing to advocate.Warning to command staff: when the EDGE grant ran out, Longmont patrol staff stormed the chief’s office and insisted that they couldn’t work anymore without it.We are literally changing the world with these programs.Let me know how I can help.
Charlie DavisCo-Responder Consulting303email@example.comCome see me at Booth #124!