Updated: Jul 13

March 2, 2021

Historically, law enforcement has been the default response to all 911 calls for service, including incidents involving individuals experiencing crises related to behavioral health disorders and/or intellectual and developmental disabilities. It has been observed that many of these incidents are service-based calls, where the presence of law enforcement may not be needed. In recent years, communities have increased efforts to reorganize their crisis response systems, training 911 call-takers and dispatchers to shift away from directing law enforcement as first responders to these calls. This webinar features four programs that have leveraged the training, policies, and procedures of 911 call-takers and dispatch when restructuring their community’s response to crisis incidents. Panelists present the innovative approaches in crisis response implemented by their programs and discuss the challenges of ensuring appropriate services are dispatched to crisis incidents to best meet the needs of individuals.


  1. Training of CIT Dispatch Trainers Ruth H. Simera, Med, LSW; Executive Director Coordinating Centers of Excellence, Northeast Ohio Medical University

  2. Colorado Justice Mental Health Collaboration Program: Dispatch / Crisis Services Collaboration Peggy Heil, LCSW; Behavioral Health Specialist Colorado Division of Criminal Justice Abigail S. Tucker, PsyD SHE Consulting, LLC

  3. Albuquerque Police Department’s IDD Training for Telecommunicators Ben Melendrez, Detective Albuquerque (NM) Police Department

  4. Transitioning 911 Response: San Francisco’s Street Crisis Response Team (SCRT) Pilot Program Robert Smuts, Deputy Director San Francisco Department of Emergency Management Simon Pang, Section Chief of Community Paramedicine San Francisco Fire Department


Webinar Recording


Downloadable Materials

Dispatch Transcript
Download TXT • 78KB
911 Distressed Caller Diversion Program in Broome County, NY
Download PDF • 409KB
Dispatch Crisis Response_Slides
Download PDF • 4.84MB

Updated: Jul 13


In August 2020, a multi-disciplinary group of individuals with subject matter expertise in police responses to people with behavioral health issues and/or developmental disabilities convened virtually to participate in the Law Enforcement Engagement with People with Behavioral Health Issues and Developmental Disabilities Stakeholder Roundtable. This roundtable was designed to inform the work of the Academic Training to Inform Police Responses by facilitating discussions related to:

  1. Opportunities to advance the safety and effectiveness of police engagement with people with behavioral health (BH) issues and/or developmental disabilities (DD);

  2. Best practices in current crisis response models and collaboration between police and service provider partners; and

  3. Existing and needed products and resources to support police agencies and their service provider partners in the delivery of effective responses.

The Stakeholder Roundtable hosted presentations on existing efforts in police responses to people with BH issues and/or DD. These presentations were designed to facilitate discussions of best practices in police and community responses, methods of police-mental health and police-disability collaboration, and potential barriers to effective responses to people with BH issues and/or DD. The presenters included:


  1. Understanding Police Response through Examining 911 Call for Service Data Dr. Rebecca Neusteter Director, University of Chicago Health Lab

  2. The Arc of the United States’ National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability Pathways to Justice® Initiative Ariel Simms, Esq. Senior Program Manager & Attorney, The Arc of the United States

  3. Tucson Police Department’s Mental Health Support Team (MHST) Assistant Chief Kevin Hall Tucson (AZ) Police Department

  4. Integrated Dispatch and Crisis Service Response Peggy Heil Behavioral Health Specialist, Colorado Division of Criminal Justice

  5. Houston Police Department’s Mental Health Division Assistant Chief Wendy Baimbridge Houston (TX) Police Department

  6. Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS; Eugene, OR) Tim Black Director of Consulting, White Bird Clinic

  7. Fayetteville Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Chief Gina Hawkins Fayetteville (NC) Police Department

  8. Southern Arizona’s Crisis Response Center and Crisis System Dr. Margie Balfour Chief of Quality and Clinical Innovation, Connections Health Solutions Associate Professor of Psychiatry; University of Arizona

A full report of the Law Enforcement Engagement with People with Behavioral Health Issues and Developmental Disabilities Stakeholder Roundtable can be found below. This report provides:

  • An account of the planning and delivery of the Roundtable, including the processes for participant selection and activities across the two-day meeting;

  • A description of the major themes of the discussions, polls, and survey responses generated by the Stakeholder Roundtable participants; and

  • Recommendations for future efforts to facilitate collaborative responses to people with BH issues and/or DD within communities.

Academic Training_Roundtable Report FINAL
Download PDF • 565KB