Launch of Program – 2021 – First Round of Funding – On January 21, in the opening session of the 2021 Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Laysha Ward, Executive Vice President & Chief External Engagement Officer for Target, announced the creation of a two-year, $700,000 Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant Program, a national partnership between the Conference of Mayors and Target aimed at identifying, supporting and promoting police policies and practices in cities shown to be most effective in advancing the goal of justice for all residents. In the first year of the program, 36 cities submitted proposals for grant funding. A panel of judges composed of former mayors, a top police executive and a social justice expert selected a single grant winner in each of three city population categories: a large city (population over 300,000) to receive $175,000, a mid-size city (population in the 100,000–250,000 range) to receive $100,000, and a small city (population under 100,000) to receive $75,000.
On January 20, in the Conference’s 2022 Winter Meeting in Washington, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Chair of USCM’s Mayors and Business Leaders Center for Compassionate and Equitable Cities, recognized the mayors of the winning cities in the first round of grant awards – Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, and Salisbury MD Mayor Jacob Day – and announced the launch of the second round of the program and the second opportunity for a large, mid-size and small city to share in a total $350,000 award. Mayor Nirenberg called all mayors’ attention to the Center’s web page on the Conference’s website where summary descriptions of all police reform initiatives proposed by cities for grant awards are posted, the purpose being to provide mayors across the country with information on what their colleagues have determined to be effective reforms that merit consideration. Target is a partner with the Conference in the Center.
2022 – Second Round of Funding – On June 4, in the opening session of the 2022 Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Reno, Target’s Laysha Ward announced the winners of the second round of grants awarded through the grant program. In this second funding round, the mid-size city population category was redefined as 100,000-300,000 residents. More than 30 cities submitted applications for grants and the program’s panel of judges again selected a single grant winner in the each of the three population categories. Recognized in the Reno meeting for their cities’ winning entries were New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Irving TX Mayor Rick Stopfer, and Central Falls RI Mayor Maria Rivera.
2023 – Third Round of Funding – Also announced by Laysha Ward in the Reno meeting was the extension of the grant program into a third round of funding. In its third year the program’s focus was reflected in a new title: Police Reform and Equitable Justice. Winners of the third round of program grants were selected from over 30 city applicants and announced in the Conference’s 2023 Annual Meeting in Columbus by Target’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs & Risk, Isaac Reyes. His June 4 presentation of awards to the mayor of the winning city in each of the population categories – Arlington TX Mayor Jim Ross, Lansing MI Mayor Andy Schor, and Huntington WV Mayor Steve Williams – was accompanied by recognition of an honorable mention city program in each population category and the mayor of the honored city: Anaheim Mayor Ashleigh Aitken, Charleston SC Mayor John Tecklenburg, and Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora.
2023 GRANT AWARD WINNERS AND HONORABLE MENTION RECOGNITION
Large City Grant Winner: Arlington TX – GameUp 5-0 Mobilization
Expanding on a successful youth mentoring model created in 2015 following the murder of a high school football player, the Arlington Police Department (APD) introduced GameUp 5-0 that targets a segment of the youth population that does not play traditional sports. Its goals include strengthening relationships with youth and the community through video games and humanizing the police badge. In 2018, the City of Arlington opened an Esports Stadium as a pioneering venue for large-scale esports productions and events, and for community-building. In 2021, APD partnered with the Arlington Independent School District to host a GameUp 5-0 esports tournament at the complex, an event involving about 100 local students and more than 30 officers. The event offered officers an opportunity to mentor youth on cyberbullying, stress relief, safe places/environments, and scholarship opportunities. Given the range of serious threats posed by cyberbullying, a goal is to make youth aware of risks and the need to take steps to protect themselves and others. In recent years, gaming trucks have become increasingly popular. Mobile gaming units are easily transported to any location, making them a convenient choice for GameUp 5-0 mobile events. Through these trucks, the program is reaching into Operation Connect zones, areas of the city in which a high percentage of juvenile offenses occur, particularly in summer months. APD will utilize grant funding to expand the program’s reach by bringing GameUp 5-0 to various neighborhoods but primarily targeting youth living in Operation Connect zones. The grant program judges applauded Arlington’s focus on youth and its recognition that all kids don’t play sports and that the popularity of gaming offers a way to reach out to them on stressful social media issues, such as cyberbullying, that affect their lives and can lead to violence. The judges also were impressed with the use of mobile gaming units to reach kids in neighborhoods experiencing the highest crime rates, a reflection of the program’s data-informed design. More information is available from Rachel Tims, Grants Coordinator, at Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Large City Honorable Mention: Anaheim – Homeless Assessment Liaison Officer
The Anaheim Police Department created a Homeless Assessment Liaison Officer (HALO) team to assist in addressing the issues of the increasing homeless population. While the team coordinates with and supports other homeless outreach teams, its services are available in any situation where mental health experts would be beneficial. The team has received specialized training in dealing with a diverse homeless population confronting physical, mental, emotional, and substance abuse issues. The HALO team works with the Department’s Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT), comprised of two officers and a County mental health clinician, to respond to incidents involving individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, and with community stakeholders such as CityNet that provides a Community Care Response Team (CCRT) that contributes to the goals of more effective outreach and better use of City resources by diverting calls from the Police Department. The HOPE program also provides a team of two mental health clinicians who are available in any situation in which mental health experts would be beneficial. The City is also piloting ACCESS (Anaheim Collaborative Court Evaluating Strategies and Solutions), a program that seeks to intervene and assist specific at-risk homeless groups with a high level of criminogenic involvement. The ACCESS process begins with the HALO team contacting a person in an at-risk category with pending criminal charges. An evaluation by a team of clinicians and counselors produces a care plan that the individual may accept in lieu of an agreed-upon jail sentence. The judges were impressed with the whole-of-government approach taken to the full range of problems confronting the homeless population, to include mental health crisis response and the offer of a care plan in lieu of incarceration for those facing criminal charges. More information is available from Police Lieutenant Jonathan Yepes at email@example.com.
Mid-Size City Grant Winner: Lansing – The Mikey23 Program
The Mikey23 non-profit was started in 2014, just months after the founder, Michael McKissic Sr, lost his son Michael to gun violence. A second-generation construction contractor and lifelong Lansing resident, his aim was to take the youth in the area out of a potentially negative environment and engage them in construction projects. Currently, the program engages young men and women in the rehabilitation of distressed houses. Police officers work alongside the youth; positive interactions with them are aimed at building the community’s trust of the police. The increase in firearms crimes among juveniles over the past two years – caseloads for the Police Department’s investigators have doubled – underscores the current need for a program that teaches young people a skilled trade in a positive environment. New members can join at the age of 12. The program supplies safety equipment and tools. At the end of a program year, some members are elevated to the next age group and some start apprenticeship programs. During the past year the program had 24 participants, mostly male, across its age groups. Most are drawn from the underrepresented communities most impacted by gun violence. The program has earned community support and positive evaluations by researchers. It operates as a nonprofit foundation and relies on donations to fund its programming. Grant funds will be used to attract skilled trades instructors/mentors who are considered experts in their field to lead program members through building tasks, and cover required vehicle expenses, tools and equipment for the program participants, tools for the performance of the work, and materials required for building projects. The judges favored Lansing’s program because of its potential impact on the community as a whole, with training that provides participants both job skills and life skills. More information is available from Assistant Chief Robert Backus at Robert.Backus@lansingmi.gov.
Mid-Size City Honorable Mention: Charleston SC – Racial Bias Audit Implementation
The Charleston Police Department (CPD) voluntarily engaged in a comprehensive racial bias audit (RBA) designed to assist in identifying implicit, systemic, and individual racial bias within the CPD, assess the impact of its operations on historically marginalized communities, and provide recommendations for improvements in department policy and practice. Since the RBA’s completion in 2019, the CPD has pursued implementation of its 72 audit recommendations, resulting in substantial change in the CPD’s policies, practices, training, and data collection capacity. An electronic, public-facing dashboard outlines the status of each RBA recommendation, and a research-based, third-party assessment of RBA implementation will provide actionable suggestions to guide future work. A desire for more data has been expressed within CPD and by the public and resources are needed to continue progress achieved following the RBA and better inform both staff and community members of the impact of departmental activities on public safety. The judges appreciated the Police Department’s self-initiated and hard look at the effect of racial bias on its operations, the data-driven overhaul of policies and practices that has resulted, and its focus on sustainability. More information is available from Jillian Eidson, Procedural Justice and Research Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Small City Grant Winner: Huntington – Crisis Intervention Team
The Huntington Police Department has adopted a strategic Community Policing model that deploys proactive strategies in the fight against crime. Engaged in the SMART Policing initiative and Police-Mental-Health-Collaboration, the Department developed its own Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) in September 2022 to handle active mental health crises in the community that cannot be solved by other mental health programs such as crisis phone numbers. West Virginia leads the nation in overdoses per capita, with Cabell County (Huntington) experiencing the second highest number of overdoses in the State. The CIT, a part of the Department’s new Coordinated Care Unit that will focus solely on mental health needs within the community, pairs mental health providers with law enforcement officers to respond to mental health/co-occurring substance use disorder crises. In addition to the Police Department’s Mental Health Liaison and CIT officers, the project currently utilizes partners from the City of Huntington (Mayor’s Council on Drug Control Policy) and mental health providers in the community. In most instances the Cabell County 911 dispatcher informs the HPD shift supervisor of incoming calls and a decision to dispatch the CIT is made after ensuring the scene is clear. Calls can also come from sources such as 311, from within the Department, and from community partners and stakeholders. Substance use and mental illness are leading causes of homelessness, and the city has recently experienced an influx of unsheltered individuals that continuously fall through the gaps in the continuum of care. The project will provide resources for those unsheltered or unstably housed, those suffering mental health and/or SUD crises, and others at risk of continuous interactions with the criminal justice system. Grant funds will be used to purchase a vehicle for exclusive CIT use that can safely house staff and equipment needed for operations. Beyond this, funds will be used to purchase needed equipment and uniforms and to pay salaries to expand the CIT to an around-the-clock operation. Recognizing that West Virginia was ground zero in the nation’s drug overdose crisis, the judges commended Huntington’s level of effort and its multi-agency, multi-disciplinary co-responder approach as a significant response to a complicated problem. They also appreciated the City’s recognition that the program must expand to operate around the clock. More information is available from Bethany Veach, Executive Assistant to Chief of Police/Grants Manager, at Veachb@huntingtonwv.gov.
Small City Honorable Mention: Trenton – Resilience Increases Success & Excellence (RISE)
RISE is a city-wide, evidence-based model focusing on positive youth development and targeting male youths of color in a city that provides a less secure and more violent environment for children than most of New Jersey and the U.S. overall. In a recent focus group, about 90% of city youths knew someone who had been murdered or had been arrested for murder. The RISE model has demonstrated success for youths of color, addressing structural and social inequalities (socioeconomic inequalities, access to resources, the school to prison pipeline, school quality) impacting them. The effort has been underway for three years, although the second year was suspended temporarily due to COVID-19. Its eight components include: twice weekly guidance lessons using evidenced-based curricula; monthly cultural or career-based experiences to expose youth to different perspectives and career options; training related to implicit bias and trauma-informed care for program partners working with youth; monthly parent involvement events; case management across programming and partners; after-school tutoring; a six-week intensive summer camp program; and ongoing assessment and evaluation. In recognizing Trenton’s concentrated, multi-faceted outreach to at-risk youth, the judges acknowledged the severity of the city’s crime and violence problems and the need to support its efforts to combat them. More information is available from Lieutenant Alexis Durlacher at email@example.com.
Other City Models
For each of the three population categories, summary descriptions of programs and initiatives submitted for grant consideration by the balance of the city applicants follow in this section. For each city, a contact person who can provide detailed information is identified.
Cities With Populations Over 300,000
SmartSheet Data Shuttle Platform and Family Advocacy Center Service Room
The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is currently engaged in a lengthy process of updating its policies. In 2022, it received 162 recommendations for updates. To aid in the process of making changes in policies, better engage the community in the process, and better communicate changes to target audiences in the community the APD’s Compliance and Oversight Division would acquire a Smartsheet Data Shuttle platform which allows uploading and offloading of data between databases and Smartsheet and automatically centralizes data in a single source. In addition, for more than two decades APD’s Criminal Investigations Division has shared in a comprehensive facility, the Family Advocacy Center, that brings Police Officers together with multiple agencies under one roof to serve the community and victims of crime. Among agencies partnering with APD in the Center are the Domestic Violence Resource Center, the Rape Crisis Center, SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program), and New Mexico Legal Aid. The Center’s centralized location allows for a collaborative approach to serving the needs of the community. More information is available from David Parkinson, Federal and State Funding Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Atlanta Police Athletic League
The Atlanta Police Athletic League (PAL) is a cooperative effort of dedicated Atlanta Police Department (APD) officers and Atlanta’s businesses and citizens. Its mission is to provide a safe environment for youth to reach their full potential utilizing athletics and other programs available through partnerships of police and the community. In partnership with the Juvenile Justice system, the Gloves not Guns program teaches middle and high school students the discipline of boxing, connects community mentors to each participant, and offers workshops that discuss gun violence, anger management, and healthy conflict-resolution strategies. Both boys and girls in the program meet with mentors and Police Officers once a month at a designated PAL recreation center. PAL works with Atlanta Public School elementary, middle, and high school students, living in Northwest Atlanta to offer academic support in math, English, reading, and homework assistance. The enrichment program is run Monday through Friday in a designated community center. PAL’s RISE program uses basketball to unite elementary and middle school youth with Police Officers for discussions around topics such as identity, diversity, bias, trust building, conflict resolution, racism, and leadership. The youth spend 45 minutes in topic discussion and 45 minutes on the basketball court every Wednesday evening. In a post-PAL Participant and Parent Survey conducted in 2022, 90% of youth reported having a positive attitude towards Police Officers; 90% of parents and students, and 86% of their teachers, reported improvements in grades and schoolwork or continued academic success due to participation in PAL after-school tutoring programs; and 93% of youth said that they have improved leadership skills and self-esteem. More information is available from Gabrielle Slade, Deputy Chief Equity Officer, at email@example.com.
In 2020, the Charlotte Police Department achieved full compliance with “8 Can’t Wait” Campaign Zero policies and launched an initiative aimed at excellent public service. In 2021, the Department launched CMPD Serves, a strategic approach, and curriculum, focused on customer engagement and positive interactions between police and community that accrue to the benefit of both. Civilian employees and sworn officers at all levels were involved in curriculum development covering modernized communications, videos, and role playing and engagement scenarios. In the first year, more than 2,500 employees participated in 1.5 hour on-line and 4-hour in-person training. The return on investment has been strong, as demonstrated in C-SAT (customer satisfaction) score improvements from 2020-2021: relationship building scores of “above average” increased from 34% to 87%; customer experience scores of “above average” increased from 48% to 83%. More information is available from Sandra Vastola at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Racial Equity Action Plan
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) seeks support to pursue objectives laid out in its Racial Equity Action Plan (REAP), part of a citywide effort codified in November 2022 that requires all City departments to create a plan addressing racial equity within their respective agencies. The CPD REAP is a three-year roadmap outlining strategies and actions implemented to close racial equity gaps, ensure equitable and constitutional policing services for all Chicagoans, and measure progress toward a more equitable City of Chicago and Chicago Police Department. Key components of CPD’s REAP include community policing strategy, commitment to ongoing reform initiatives, and enhanced training in implicit bias awareness and procedural justice. For FY2023, CPD seeks to advance the City’s overarching desired result around workforce diversity, centering its goals around recruitment, public safety, and community engagement. Recruitment will focus on hiring police officers from different backgrounds and life experiences to reflect Chicago’s diversity and measuring this success against the city’s population demographic. CPD will address public safety by expanding its Neighborhood Policing Initiative — a problem-solving strategy designed to address community needs — by the end of 2023 and increasing its capacity for problem-solving activities that meet community needs. The CPD’s REAP priority areas are Community Engagement, Workforce Diversity, and Public Safety. For CPD, it is imperative that all Chicagoans are safe across the city and have trusting relationships with law enforcement. To accomplish this, CPD strategies will bring the community into the public safety strategy (i.e., create, expand, and sustain opportunities for partnerships and collaboration with violence intervention organizations); and use public safety strategies that are data driven, effective, and mindful of equity More information is available from Tomas Maulawin, Grant Research Specialist, at email@example.com.
Cleveland’s Co-Responder Team program, which pairs Police Officers and crisis workers who respond to calls for service for people experiencing mental health crises, was launched as a pilot program in June 2016 in the Cleveland police district experiencing the highest rate of mental health incidents. The initiative expanded citywide in 2020, with one team present in all five Neighborhood Police Districts. Officers on teams have received advanced Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training and volunteer for the assignment. Crisis workers are hired by community organizations and have experience in social work. In operation, regular patrol officers who have basic CIT training respond to calls, ensure the safety of the scene and conduct an initial investigation before calling in the Co-Responder Team when appropriate. The Team will assess the client and determine the appropriate course of action, which might include transporting them to a hospital or referring them to an agency for services. Focused as much on police accountability as on mental health, the program is seen as a fourth option to 911 calls for service that will reduce unnecessary incarceration, build capacity, and ensure residents get the care they need. From December 2020 through February 2022 the Teams received 2,212 referrals and were able to connect with 68% of the individuals in crisis. Of the referrals received, 83.3% were not repeat calls. There have been no incidents of deadly force associated with Team responses to calls. More information is available from Dawn Heartsong, Public Safety Grants Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assessment Intake Diversion Center
The Assessment Intake Diversion (AID) Center expansion continues Denver’s investment in alternative responses aimed at reducing the disparate representation of vulnerable populations in the justice system. The idea for the AID Center was envisioned by the Denver Police Department’s (DPD) and the Denver Sheriff’s Department’s (DSD) search for a solution to better meet the needs of persons repeatedly arrested and booked into the jails on low-level criminal charges driven by behavioral health needs and a lack of access to stable housing. Opened in November 2022, the AID Center utilizes a trauma-informed and person-centered approach to address service gaps for individuals and decreases the risk of future justice involvement by offering integrated system- and community-based services. It supports the needs of judicially-involved participants from walk-ins, DPD drop-off, and referrals from Community, County and Municipal Courts, Colorado Department of Corrections, and other civic agencies. Since opening the Center has served more than 270 individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Individuals accessing the Center have received a range of supportive services including obtaining vital records, access to substance use treatment, housing navigation, healthcare, workforce training, and mental health services, among others. Community programs are central to the Center’s success and remain actively engaged in programming. Data collected during the intake process reflect a diverse pool of individuals seeking services. Community feedback regarding the Center is extremely positive. The AID Center Accessibility Initiative will address two key barriers facing clients: transportation and housing instability. People accessing the AID Center frequently have conditions necessitating safe and reliable transportation to ensure vital service connection for their wellbeing. Housing security is directly tied to wellbeing, as well as mitigating protentional justice involvement. The Center’s Initiative provides a temporary place for participants to stay until they can be referred to longer-term community-based supportive services. More information is available from Jeffrey Holliday, Chief of Staff, Department of Public Safety, at Jeffrey.email@example.com.
Kansas City MO
Partners for Peace
Officially launched in August 2022 following three years of development, Partners for Peace is a community policing collaboration of the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD), the City of Kansas City, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, and dozens of on-the-ground community organizations to connect those closest to and affected by violent crime to restorative social services. Assisting 247 residents during the first eight months of implementation, the program utilizes real-time police intelligence to deploy violence interrupters who engage with Kansas Citians who are imminently at risk of being victimized by or committing violence. Killings and shootings disproportionately harm young people of color and their families; Black residents comprised three-quarters of victims over a recent five-year period. Services are primarily deployed in concentrated areas to residents of color based on contact information for every victim of a non-fatal shooting and family of a homicide victim received from KCPD. The program initiates contact with the victim or next-of-kin to ascertain their needs and, in a weekly meeting, 26 social service providers determine which organization has the capacity and resources to meet the client’s needs. Partners for Peace currently leverages the budgets of its participating organizations to provide restorative social services. Awarded funds will be used to pay for client deliverables such as work certification fees and equipment, childcare, relocation costs, mental health treatment and more. More information is available from Melesa Johnson, Director of Public Safety, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New York City
New York City Police Department Co-Response Program
NYPD’s Co-Response Program was established in 2016, incorporating a collaborative component from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). Providing city-wide crisis response services to individuals with both behavioral health conditions and histories of violence, the program is currently comprised of 20 police officers and 10 DOHMH master’s level behavioral health professionals – two police officers and one mental health clinician per team. In 2021, the Co-Response Program introduced the Crisis Co-Response and Mental Health Engagement course to meet the distinct decision-making demands on NYPD uniformed supervisors (sergeants, lieutenants, and captains). Beyond this supervisory training, there are very few advanced trainings or facilitated discussions on mental health response issues, leaving most police officers to acquire mental health crisis response skills (assessment, tactics, and interventions) on the job, during the course of daily duties. To address this, the NYPD Behavioral Health Division Co-Response Program is planning to expand its current training and outreach efforts to include a law enforcement-focused mental health best practices forum (MHBP Forum) designed to 1) Increase mental health engagement capacity (knowledge and policing skills) among law enforcement personnel (patrol officers, supervisors, and executives); 2) develop accountability measures for mental health service calls and outcomes tracking and evaluation, and create a platform for discussion and review of specific police-involved mental emergency incidents; 3) raise the operational relevance of mental health service calls and their respective outcomes; and 4) develop an ongoing forum to discuss and exchange information and best practices for law enforcement incidents with individuals experiencing a mental health emergency/crisis. The MHBP Forum will be held on a monthly rotation basis through each of the five NYPD borough commands. More information is available from Seth Severino, Assistant Commissioner, at email@example.com.
Procedurally Just Youth Engagement
A citywide Philadelphia Police Department effort underway since October 2021, Procedurally Just Youth Engagement (PJYE) is part of the Department’s effort to repair the relationship between police and the community. In an intentional effort to involve the city’s youth in the conversation, the program targets 14-18-year-old youth who are currently in school or engaged with the Department’s Police Athletic League (PAL) branches. Operating across the PPD’s six divisions and led by its Community Relations Bureau, the program is facilitated by a minority- and woman-owned firm. Police personnel at all levels have participated in the listening sessions held with the youth that have focused on circumstances that have contributed to misunderstanding, how engagement with PPD personnel has impacted the youth, and what participants need do to repair harm and come to an understanding. The engagements to date have been a success, so much so that the PPD received requests from youth, police, and site staff to continue this effort, ultimately increasing collaboration, building trust, and showing mutual respect between the youth and PPD officers. The PPD secured a small grant to maintain the program but recognizes the need to expand it to a much larger audience and create restorative justice conversations citywide with youth and families. More information is available from Blake Norton, Chief Strategy Officer, Philadelphia Police Department, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Outreach and Stabilization (COAST) Unit
The Saint Paul Police Department’s Community Outreach and Stabilization (COAST) Unit stands as an early, successful example of the co-responder model of police and clinical specialists working together to provide a better approach to individuals with mental health and chemical dependency challenges. The COAST Unit was formed in 2018 to respond to a significant rise in mental health and chemical dependency challenges: mental health calls to St. Paul Police more than doubled between 2004 and 2016. This hits stressed regions of the city particularly hard: In 2021, almost two-thirds of all Person in Crisis (PIC) and Suicide in Progress (SIP) calls to which SPPD responded were in one of the 41 Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs) in Saint Paul. The two main components of COAST are: a Mental Health Resource Team (MHRT), currently with two SPPD Officers and three Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs); and a Recovery Access Program (RAP) to deal with chemical abuse incidents, with one Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) and one SPPD Officer. The LCSWs and LADCs are provided through partnerships with Ramsey County and the non-profit People Inc. The bulk of current COAST Unit work involves follow-up contacts to prevent future incidents. This involves more than a single engagement: on average, there are about four follow-ups for every “frequent contact” individual who is engaged by the COAST Unit. In 2022 the Unit handled 69 incidents directly, supported 389 individuals during community events, and treated 61 overdoses using Narcan. Data show the Unit consistently exceeds targets set for individuals treated per month, percentage of individuals successfully connected to appropriate resources, and percentage of frequent contacts going six months without additional interactions with the Police Department – for this, a success rate of more than 90% since COAST was formed. More information is available from Scott Hvizdos, Grant Specialist, at email@example.com.
Tampa Police Department Behavioral Health Team
The Tampa Police Department’s Behavioral Health Team, established in 2021, provides field clinicians to co-respond with police officers for behavioral mental health-related calls. The licensed clinician provides immediate clinical engagement for the individual during a crisis. The immediate goal is to quickly connect the individual with a trained professional; the short-term goal is to connect these individuals with wrap-around services to improve their health and consolidate support services which currently are in silos. Between 2019 and 2021, the Police Department received an average of 6,600 mental health-related calls per year–about 18 per day. So far this year the Department is averaging 22 mental health calls per day. In operation, mental health calls are triaged and the teams respond where they would be most effective – where the clinician’s skills, which include assessment and intervention with a person in crisis, can best be utilized. They coordinate the services that meet the need of that individual and coordinate with community stakeholders for mental health treatment and/or other wraparound services needed. High utilizers are prioritized for follow-up contacts. The BHU also connects individuals to community partners and consolidated support services such as housing, employment, and substance abuse and mental health treatment programs. The Unit has had 710 mental health contacts since inception and has closed 625 of these. Contacts are closed when connections to services are made or in the unfortunate event that individuals cannot be located and/or they move out of the area. More information is available from Catherine Hayes, Grants Supervisor, at Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cities with Populations in the 100,000-300,000 Range
Baton Rouge Collective Healing Initiative
The purposes of this initiative are to foster meaningful dialogue and reconciliation among law enforcement agencies and the communities of color they serve, to increase the capacity of victim services programs, and to address officer health and wellness. It was established in 2017 in a period of racial unrest under a U. S. Department of Justice, Office of Victims of Crime grant. The Police Department, as administrator, engaged 100 Black Men of Metro Baton (100 Black Men) as a core partner. The organization hosted events that instructed its mentees in safe engagement with law enforcement officers. These sessions became the basis of a five-part educational curriculum. Events held in school and church settings reached over 600 students and their parents. A project manager hired by the Police Department has coordinated with agency leadership to oversee Initiative activities and resolve barriers to implementation. A Victims Assistance Coordinator position created two years ago is filled by a seasoned detective assigned to assist victims of violent crimes and domestic violence, referring them to services and resources that are available and helping them navigate through the criminal justice system, and an LGBT Liaison Officer position also has been created. A Cadet Program and Explorers Program introduce young people to law enforcement as a potential career. More information is available from Sergeant Vanpheng Nitchin, Grant Program Director, at email@example.com.
Social Work and Crisis Intervention Team
The Social Work and Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) initiative trains and deploys social workers with Bridgeport Police Department (BPD) CIT officers to respond to crisis-related calls. Launched in September 2022, the city-wide initiative aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of services required by an increasing number of individuals in mental, emotional, physical, or chemical health crisis. In Bridgeport, the under-staffed and over-burdened BPD was responding to all mental health-related calls in addition to their typical high volume of crime and emergency-related incidents. These strained resources often resulted in heightened tension between police and community members. In operation, 911 dispatchers determine whether calls fall within the scope of the program; those that do result in a CIT officer and field social worker being dispatched, the officer to ensure the situation is safe for the social worker and the social worker to conduct an assessment of the patient and make a referral to office social workers, one of whom will attempt to contact the patient within 24 hours to schedule a home visit or office appointment, as appropriate. Referrals will be made to appropriate service agencies and office social workers will follow up with the agencies for updates on persons referred in 30 and 60 days as necessary. In its pilot stage, one CIT officer and one field social worker are available on the day shift and have responded in 63 cases to date. Three social workers are in training for deployment with officers and are handling follow-up with subjects and referrals to service agencies. More information is available from Joseph Katz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crisis Co-Responder Unit
The Crisis Co-Responder Unit (CCRU) was created in 2021 to respond to individuals experiencing mental health and/or substance-use-related crises in the community who have come into contact with law enforcement. The program provides crisis intervention, assessment, advocacy, treatment resources, community outreach, and education. Composed of a Crisis Intervention Team Officer and a Crisis Co-Response mental health professional, the Unit responds and intervenes in mental health crises, suicidal threats/attempts, and disorders with individuals struggling with mental health issues, and provides on-scene de-escalation, crisis assessment and execution of Certificate of Need protocols, crisis stabilization and counseling, and advocacy, referrals, and follow-up for inpatient and outpatient treatment services. Another component of the program provides training and resources to internal and external community organizations. From 2022 to March 2023 the CCRU has responded to 301 cases and relieved 557 patrol units with less than 1% use of force. Community buy-in and feedback have been overwhelmingly supportive. More information is available from Belen Garcia-Revas, Crisis Co-Responder Supervisor, at email@example.com.
Community Outreach and Support Team (COAST)
The City’s Community Outreach and Support Team is a multi-discipline mental health intervention team made up of a nonuniformed police officer, a social worker and a nonuniformed firefighter accompanied by an emotional support dog. The Team can be dispatched to a call when it is received and eases the burdens otherwise placed on police, fire, and ambulance services. It also diminishes the risk of physical force being used, which decreases risk of injury and liability. Among the Team’s objectives are improving quality of life of community residents and their relationships with first responders; eliminating the stigmas surrounding mental illness through education and leading by example; and providing resources to those in need, to include food, clothing, medical aid, emotional support, and transportation. The Team has recorded 1,200 calls; 390 have resulted in connections to facilities; 422 have produced referrals to services. About a third of the services provided are responses to primary calls; about a third involve assistance to patrol officers. COAST is available four days a week, 10 hours a day. More information is available from Officer Michael Hall, COAST Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rochester Police Department Restorative Justice Youth Program
The Rochester Police Department Restorative Justice Youth Program was initiated in 2021 and formalized in April 2022 as a collaboration with area criminal justice agencies partnering with Three Rivers Restorative Justice (TRRJ) that redirects youth who commit low-level crimes to restorative justice services. The goal is to enhance public safety, make victims feel heard, have harm repaired, and reduce youth recidivism in our community. Participation by victims, offenders, family, and community members is voluntary. Criteria for the police department program generally involve property crimes and minor assaults; discretion for appropriate referrals remains with the Rochester Police Department. A police sergeant is assigned as a liaison to the program; any officer can make a referral through the sergeant. From July 2021 through February 2023, 78 youths were referred to the TRRJ program and participated in a conference process, and 62 successfully completed a reparation agreement that typically includes community service, apology letters, and restitution. Surveys revealed that, to date, all or nearly all participating victims were satisfied with the outcome of the process and would recommend restorative conferencing to someone they knew who was in a similar situation. More information is available from
Sarah Clayton, Administrative Services Manager, at email@example.com.
Rochester Police Department Workforce Development Program
The Rochester Police Department (RPD) created the Workforce Development Program (WDP) within its Office of Recruitment in February 2022 with a goal of improving recruiting efforts to increase representation of underrepresented minorities, women, and other groups among its police officers. Those who join WDP are seeking employment as police officers, but the program is designed to benefit candidates regardless of whether they are ultimately employed as officers. Recruitment and marketing efforts are focused on young adults, particularly minority individuals and women, and on identification of emotionally stable and intelligent candidates likely to become more successful and impactful future RPD Officers. A required community service component drives engagement with community members and groups at a grassroots level. Prior to WDP the Department held workshops to help police applicants prepare for the written exam and other stages of hiring, but only a handful of applicants participated. With WPD, enrollment has increased dramatically. Across the 91 candidates currently enrolled, 64% are minorities; ages range from 19 to 34; 98% are currently employed and 45% are currently working two jobs; 55% are in college or have a degree. There are working mothers and fathers, single mothers and fathers, and transgender and homosexual individuals. The program focuses on keeping candidates engaged and prepared for a hiring process that includes a written test, a physical agility test, an interview, a psychological inventory, and a background check., In October 2022 eight WDP participants were hired by the Rochester Police Department and entered the training academy. More information is available from Mark Gorthy, Grant Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Assistance & Life Liaison (CALL) Program
In continuous operation since February 2021, the CALL program was created as a partnership between the St. Petersburg Police Department (SPPD) and a community-based nonprofit, Gulf Coast JFCS, to provide a civilian response to mental health-related nonviolent and noncriminal calls. Services are available within the city to individuals who are the subject of a 911/nonemergency call (within several identified call types), officer referral, and/or are an identified high need/high utilizer. Services are available in the field daily from 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM and a 24/7 crisis line is also provided to clients. Officers can complete an online referral to CALL to provide follow up with a family or individual. CALL provides follow-up to ensure clients are linked with services and are stable, and also provides a 24/7 crisis line to divert future calls from emergency services. The CALL Supervisor and Emergency Communication Department (ECD) Supervisor communicate on each “live” call as a team of “Navigators” are dispatched. Also, officers can request CALL to meet them on-scene to assist with an active call and CALL can request an officer on-scene through a direct line to the ECD. Navigators respond on-scene in pairs and can request a licensed supervisor when needed. To date, CALL has made more than 8,400 contacts in the community, responded to more than 2,000 officer referrals, and served 4,000 clients. More information is available from Megan McGee, Assistant Director, Administrative Services Bureau, at email@example.com.
Mobile Crisis Response Team
A partnership of the City of South Bend, South Bend Police Department, Saint Joseph County 911 Center, and Oaklawn Psychiatric Center, the Mobile Crisis Response Team was established in March 2022 as an effort to limit police interactions with individuals in crisis until deemed absolutely necessary. The unit – four substance recovery coaches, three certified (Master’s Level) therapists, and one case manager – serves City of South Bend and surrounding Saint Joseph County residents in immediate need of mental health assistance or evaluation when suffering from suicidal ideologies, hallucinations, psychiatric drug abuse or misuse, severe depression, bi-polar disorders, and all other non-specific mental health conditions. It operates Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and through March 2023 has responded to nearly 3,500 calls. In some cases, Team members have been mobilized to alleviate police resources; in other cases, individual police officers have identified persons in crisis for whom 911 dispatchers were never notified and have alerted the Team to them. In 2022 alone there were 815 known calls for service in which the police response may not have been needed. The Mobile Crisis Response Team has been able to alleviate this situation by physically fielding only about 12% of calls such as these. More information is available from Aaron Knepper, Logistics Officer, at AKnepper@southbendin.gov.
Cities with Populations under 100,000
Collaborative Crisis Intervention Response Program
Columbia Heights is a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis. In recent years the Police Department, which serves a diverse and transient population of about 20,000, has seen an increase in mental health and crisis-related calls that have been both more difficult and time-consuming – some individuals were contacting emergency services over 100 times a year – to handle. At the same time, community expectations continue to drive efforts to reduce the use of force whenever possible. The situation presented a clear opportunity to engage a mental health professional to work with police. In December 2021, with the help of a federal grant, the Police Department contracted with Canvas Health to provide a full-time Mental Health Professional (MHP) to work out of the Department to provide mental health services to residents needing them. The MHP co-responds with officers in the field and conducts independent follow up. The Department also employs two full-time Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers (LICSW) that work an overlapping schedule and cover the hours from 10 am to 11 pm when most crisis-related calls are received. They accompany officers in squad cars on calls that are likely to benefit from their skills. The initiative is addressing the goals of improving individuals’ access to and engagement with resources and services; shifting/reducing the burden of calls and incidents involving mental health/substance use; improving incident outcomes; improving police relationships in the community; and reducing costs to law enforcement and hospitals. A 2022 evaluation indicated goal achievement in several areas, among them: the social workers had nearly 2,000 interactions with clients; nearly all co-response calls were handled with no use of force; calls for services increased by 177%; and all Police Department staff found value in the program. More information is available from Police Captain Erik Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
QoL Task Force
The QoL Task Force was originally formed four years ago when the Police Department began experiencing repeated calls to address instances of illegal activity in specific areas of the city. Weekly visits to these areas to ensure that no illegal activity was occurring resulted in positive interactions between officers and the city’s homeless population, prompting them to shift focus toward engaging with these individuals, establishing relationships, and providing needed assistance. Task Force support for this growing population takes the form of weekly verbal engagement, provision of health-related supplies such as blankets and PPE, and connections to resources such as addiction treatment, housing, and special needs services. With many of the homeless individuals suffering from addiction and other mental health issues, the Task Force has established partnerships with Bridgeway Behavioral Health Services and Prevention Links, organizations that are involved in outreach activities and work to connect these individuals with appropriate support services. The Task Force has operated in its current form over the past two years, with planning, implementation, and operation coordinated primarily by the Police Department. Task force membership today includes the City’s Fire Department, Department of Health, and Inspections Department. Outreach activities usually involve one to three people from each department. More information is available from James Abney, Police Director, at email@example.com.
San Luis Obispo
Community Action Team
The City of San Luis Obispo created its Community Action Team (CAT) in 2013 as a special unit of the Police Department. This co-responder team pairs a mental health clinician with a police officer to conduct proactive street outreach and respond to mental health crisis calls citywide. The CAT is a specialized assignment and the staff involved require specialized training in crisis intervention, de-escalation, and behavioral health. The CAT connects unhoused individuals to services for housing, addiction and mental health counseling, and facilitates family reunifications to reconnect individuals with friends and family. In the second half of 2022 alone, the CAT was able to refer 76 individuals (approximately 30% of the City’s unsheltered residents) to treatment and nine individuals to permanent housing; another four individuals were reconnected with their families. Transitions-Mental Health Association, a San Luis Obispo City and County nonprofit contract provider, employs three staff members – a Mobile Crisis Unit Case Manager and two CAT Case Managers – who partner with Police and Fire Department teams, providing outreach and support and building connections to bring those in need into services or to reconnect with family. More information is available from Lieutenant Aaron Shafer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental Health Professional Co-Responder Program
In August of 2021 the Tukwila Police Department partnered with the local chapter of Sound Mental Health and created its Mental Health Professional (MHP) Co-Responder Program. The goals of this program are to use MHP skills on calls to decrease hospital or jail visits for those with behavioral health symptoms and reduce the degree and frequency of force-used police confrontations. It also involves training police officers to identify and have more empathy for those with severe and persistent behavioral health issues, and educating community members themselves on local resources and treatment options that can be accessed when a Co-Responder is not available. The focus is on community members in crises severe enough that police will be involved – crises that may involve intoxication, substance use/abuse, welfare checks, suicide potential, indecent exposure, trespass, syringe disposal, disturbance, public nuisance, or domestic violence. The program is designed to have MHPs assisting officers but allows them to handle calls for service on their own where behavioral health is the main concern. The current program has been functioning for a year and a half. In that period, an MHP has contacted roughly 1,195 persons in crisis; of these, 667 were provided one or more resources. The program has received broad community praise for the services that it provides with individuals and organizations asking for greater hours of service availability to allow greater numbers of MHP contacts. More information is available from Jake Berry, Public Safety Budget Analyst, at email@example.com.
Elevate CCBHC Partnership
The Waterloo Police Department (WPD) partnered with Elevate CCBHC in February of 2021 to provide the city with a rapid response to the mental health crisis. An Elevate mental health professional accompanies sworn officers on their shifts. When a call is found to be safe the Elevate professional begins working with the subject involved, offering suggestions, solutions, and opportunities for help. This includes follow-up appointments with subjects as well as referrals to an Elevate facility to speak with a professional on a regular basis. The Elevate partnership has resulted in a decrease in the time officers are engaged on mental health calls and an increase in referrals for follow-up and future treatment. Between January 2021 and March 2023, the partnership responded to more than 1,900 service calls related to mental health, the majority involving suicide attempts. Within the community of residents experiencing mental health crises, the focus of the program is on service to the uninsured and underinsured. In addition to partnering with Elevate to address mental health needs in the city, WPD has provided 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Training to more than half of the patrol force, giving officers hands-on experience in dealing with persons in crisis, identifying the nature of their crisis, and aiding them in their recovery. Current budget constraints have limited the time Elevate professionals are available to partner with officers. More information is available from Captain Aaron McClelland, Administrative Division, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Police Department Principles and Programs
A Police Reform Committee formed by the City late in 2020 in response to a Governor’s Executive Order titled “New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative” recommended that the White Plains Police Department continue to integrate the principles of Procedural Justice, Sanctity of Life, and the Guardian Mindset throughout the organization. Efforts to build a professional police department continue to be informed by these three principles. In-service training in 2021 included sessions on fair and impartial policing and de-escalation and duty to intervene. In 2022 it included Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE). Also in 2021, the Department started posting on its website a Quarterly Arrest Report that shows the demographics of all arrestees categorized by categories of arrest, and the demographics of the Police Department in comparison to the demographics of the City as a whole. In 2022 the Department completed the North American Institute’s Youth Police Initiative Program in which participating youth and police officers “reinvent” the way they connect and communicate, breaking down the negative stereotypes that often color the relationships between police and young people. humanizing the challenges that each one faces. The program was repeated in March 2023 with a group of female police officers and young women. The Department continues to offer The Explorer Program, in which high school students meet weekly for hands-on training by police officers, and the Youth Civilian Police Academy, in which participants meet with and learn from members of each division of the Department. More information is available from Detective Nicole Verrastro at email@example.com.
York City Juvenile Engagement Unit
The City of York Police Department’s Juvenile Engagement Unit was created in 2021 to work collaboratively with parents, schools, law enforcement, courts, and other community stakeholders to provide opportunities and encourage youths to get on the path to being prosperous, law-abiding members of the community. The three police officers in the Unit (two from York City, one from the adjacent West York Borough) gather information from police, schools, and parents to identify youths who are at risk of being involved in violence or otherwise falling into the criminal justice system. Problem areas addressed by the Unit include gun violence, fighting, school truancy, substance abuse, and those of chronic runaways. The officers engage with the youths as mentors and counselors to help them reduce negative behavior and improve family relationships. They talk with the youths, their parents or guardians, and their siblings. In some cases, parents reach out and invite the officers to their homes; in others, the officers engage the youths in their neighborhoods, in parks, or in recreation facilities. They work with middle school and high school staff, being present at the beginning of the day and at dismissal. While the goal is to build relationships and trust, their presence may also instill a healthy fear of the consequences of negative behavior. Many of the parents who reach out to say they cannot control their children greatly appreciate the effect of another authority figure on their family dynamics. The public response has been very positive, with 55 families requesting repeated in-home visits. Over 200 youths have been directly engaged through these efforts, as have over 500 additional siblings and parents. About 10 of these youths had been identified by police as being at “high risk” of involvement in the gun violence epidemic. About 20 individuals have seen significant behavioral turnaround, returning to normal school attendance, finding employment, and having reduced interaction with known violent offenders. This program was created with a Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency grant which supports it through 2023. More information is available from Captain Dan Lentz at firstname.lastname@example.org.