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Tucson: Crisis Response Teams


  • City: Tucson, Arizona
  • Population Size: 548,073
  • Jurisdiction Size: 226.71 sq miles


  • 1 – Co-responder teams
  • 0-Tucson/ Arizona are looking into non-police-based responses for the future

CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) Requirements

  • Immersion model
  • 40 hours of training
  • Co-responders attend CIT with officers

Model Components

  • Staffing Structure
    • Six years ago, Chief of Police started the program with a sergeant and 2 officers-self funded by PD
    • Started with a task force model focused on MH (Court ordered treatment) – centralized
    • Has crisis center- none of this stuff would work without the 24-hour treatment center option (takes voluntary and involuntary)
    • Homeless outreach team- new in the past few months
    • All teams housed in the same program- all collaborative- try to do a holistic approach
    • Have a full spectrum of outreach workers and co-responders that interact
    • 3 units/sergeants 21 officers/ 11-12 co-responders currently
    • Clinical co-responders
    • Deflection model has peers that co-respond with deflection officers
    • Adding 8 more social workers embedded in PD
    • Peers trained in housing first model respond with homeless outreach officers
    • Peers:
      • Blend of both CPS and lived experience
      • All peers are CPS.
      • Started with all clinical co-responders, moved to peers- completely different experience in terms of supervising, training, etc.
      • Program Highlights
      • Mental Health Support Team (MHST)
    • Co-responder program pairs MHST officers with mental health clinicians
    • Proactively and compassionately connects people who have mental health needs to services before, during, and after a crisis
    • Crisis Mobile Teams (CMT)
    • Work in tandem with the crisis line to provide continuous access to services
    • Crisis Response Center (CRC)
    • Provides 24/7 emergency psychiatric and substance addiction treatment services for both adults and youth
    • Multi-tiered training is open to all levels of law enforcement, mental health workers, call takers and dispatchers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and firefighters.
    • Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and basic crisis mitigation and management training for all officers; training is also open to the community
    • Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for officers on a voluntary basis
    • Advanced training for specialized units including MHST and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Negotiators
  • Staff Training/Qualifications
    • All co-responders get a 1-week orientation course- go to the academy, trained on police radio, firearms, driving and go through 40-hour CIT training with officers
    • Regardless of employment source
  • Dispatch Structure
    • Do a lot of training and team building with co-responders and cops (CIT, MH etc.)
    • Warm-line transfer to a crisis line- if a 911 call comes in, they can warm-line transfer to a crisis line to avoid police involvement. Dispatch will stay on the line for a bit to make sure that it doesn’t become emergent. Calls can flow back and forth between 911 and crisis.
    • 911 can divert calls to co-responders and send CIT officers to crisis calls
    • Were about to embed 3 crisis line workers into police communications-put on hold due to COVID
    • Can help triage what is appropriate for diversion up stream
    • Crisis line can dispatch mobile acute crisis teams who can then request law enforcement if they feel it is necessary

Operating Structure

    • Operations
      • Co-responders at all levels go to crisis real time calls but have a large focus on wrap around follow-up with co-responders.
      • Try to proactively follow up with individuals before the next crisis call
      • Follow-up with top 100 individuals who were arrested and have a MH court order
      • 24/7 On Demand Treatment Center
      • Operation is funded through MCO, mostly Medicaid
      • Voluntary, involuntary, adult, juveniles
      • 65% of drop-offs are voluntary
      • No wrong door policy for law enforcement- Dr. Balfour runs the CRC
      • ER hospital and CRC are connected/in the same place
      • Follow-up
      • Can refer cases for deeper follow-up with detectives
      • Prioritize cases that involve danger to others
      • Same process with detectives as LA
      • A critical part of the program and the buy-in for the PD/ justification for the tea
    • Funding Mechanisms
      • Clinical co-responders funded by MCO (Arizona Complete Health Centene)
      • Broke down a team that was responding and used funding to embed them in the PD
      • Deflection model – Bureau of Justice Assistance grant funded- have peers that co-respond with deflection officers
      • Peers trained in housing first model. County initiative, grant and self-funded – respond with homeless outreach team officers
      • City has agreed to self-fund 8 more social workers to be embedded in the PD
      • Currently applying for a few more grants. Big push to find long term sustainable funding.
      • Medicaid expansion state so some of this work is funded through that already
      • 24/7 On-Demand Treatment Center- funded through a blend model, building is funded through a bond (voter initiative)
    • MOUs/Contracting
      • Unknown
    • Management Structure
      • All co-responders come from different providers
      • Blend of different types of employees
      • Substance deflection program-PD employees
      • 8 new social workers- PD employees
    • Supplies/Equipment
      • Plain clothes-everyone
      • Drive unmarked police cars
      • All co-responders have company vehicles as well

Data Systems & Collection

  • Data Systems:
    • Co-responders have their own laptops on their own servers. They have their own data and warehouse
    • Some data goes back and forth and some doesn’t
    • Ton of data agreements between entities
    • A lot of MOUs and data sharing agreements
    • The deflection program has releases people can sign. PD can get this info if the person signs the release
  • Data Collection:
    • Something they struggle with
    • Manage jail data- one of the biggest areas of tracking
    • Jail population review committee
      • Track MH orders
      • Track uses of force in MH orders
      • Track deflection orders
      • Track recidivism for deflection program
      • Homeless engagement tracks engagement
      • Avg # engagement
      • Repeat engagement
      • Each program is a little bit different
  • Highlighted Statistics/Outcomes:
    • 1200 deflections in the past year and a half. Only 30 repeat customers

Key Takeaways

  • Peers can be effectively used in co-responder programs
  • Having a variety of providers for co-responders can work well
  • No wrong door to accessing care

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