A Specialized Crisis Response Site as a Core Element of Police-Based Diversion Programs


Transporting an individual in psychiatric crisis to an emergency department is often frustrating for both law enforcement and mental health professionals. To facilitate collaboration between police and mental heath professionals in crisis cases, some communities have developed prebooking diversion programs that rely on specialized crisis response sites where police can drop off individuals in psychiatric crisis and return to their regular patrol duties. These programs identify detainees with mental disorders and work with diversion staff, community-based providers, and the courts to produce a mental health disposition in lieu of jail. This paper describes three of the diversion programs participating in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration jail diversion knowledge development application initiative that demonstrate the importance of specialized crisis response sites. The three programs are in Memphis, Tennessee; Montgomery County, Pennsylvania; and Multnomah County, Oregon. The authors describe important principles in the operation of these programs: being a highly visible, single point of entry; having a no-refusal policy and streamlined intake for police cases; establishing legal foundations to detain certain individuals; ensuring innovative, intensive cross-training; and linking clients to community services.

Publication Title

Psychiatric Services