Public safety officers and agencies have become the default managers of our communities’ mental health needs. Most first responders, police officers, deputy sheriffs, and district attorneys did not sign up to engage with citizens in mental health crisis. However, most do exactly that on a daily basis, without having the appropriate training, resources, or support systems in place. Public safety interventions should include community-based, health-focused alternatives to officer involvement. When health-driven behaviors result in an encounter with public safety officers, health-based alternatives to jail and criminal charges should be available. All public safety personnel must be trained in de-escalation techniques, behavioral health awareness tactics, and be empowered to intervene preventatively when there is real risk to community safety.
- Universalize community policing and cross-sector first responder models to redirect people toward health care and minimize arrests
- Increase capacity and scope of crisis response and crisis stabilization centers
- Manage substance use and addiction as health concerns (harm reduction)