Mental Health Co-Responder Program
The Arvada Police Department's Mental Health Co-Responder Program is continuing to progress in cutting edge ways. In the Spring of 2020, APD successfully contracted with the State of Colorado to double the Co-Responder program from two clinicians to four. With this increase in staffing, we are adding two vehicles, thereby multiplying the coverage across the week and the co-responders’ ability to respond to more calls for service throughout the City and to provide follow-up and case management for individual clients based on referrals. We are currently working to lease the vehicles and fill the new vacancies. Among the major goals of the co-responders are to reduce repeated calls for service involving the same individuals by providing more in-depth services, customized referrals, and follow-up case management. In addition to reducing the number of repeated calls, the co-responders’ work reduces the time officers are needed on the scene. The presence of the co-responders facilitates a wider array of options for behavioral health clients, which are no longer limited to emergency mental health holds.
APD responds to an average of two behavioral health calls for service per day (50-70 per month) that require police intervention, with officers spending an average of around 20 hours per week in direct contact with individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis. In addition to our partnerships with the Office of Behavioral Health and Jefferson Center for Mental Health, APD partners with the Arvada Fire Department to receive any referrals they may have in their encounters, to provide our co-responder and officer to them on scene whenever needed, and we offer and provide behavioral health training to their staff, all at no cost. In return, the Fire Department provides an average of one transport per day, thereby avoiding handcuffing and transporting individuals in a crisis in a police car, where criminal offenders usually sit. This partnership preserves clients’ dignity and maintains a medically safe environment for these high-risk clients who frequently consume medications and illicit substances prior to contact with police.
The APD continues to move in a progressive direction with the Co-Responder Program, in the most customized, cost-effective framework, designed for the City of Arvada. While other programs exists involving co-responders in the U.S., the scope and scale of behavioral health calls for service in Arvada demand a customized approach. Our newly-expanded program will provide service coverage across the entire week, during all active behavioral health call times (currently 8am to 9pm) for approximately $284,000 per year, grant-funded. Similar full-time programs (Memphis model, CAHOOTS, Douglas County CRT) provide a single full-time team only during business hours for a cost of $1 million per year. The Arvada Police Department looks forward to continuing to provide an innovative, cost-effective, and progressive Co-Responder program that sets the example in mid-sized, professional police departments in Colorado and beyond.
- by Public Safety (Police)