National Conference: October 20–21, 2021

(virtual conference)

Register Now

Communities across the U.S. are launching new responses to emergency calls. They are redefining who answers calls for service involving mental health or substance use crises, homelessness, “quality-of-life” issues, and other low-level situations.

Taking the Call will bring people together from across the U.S. to explore how jurisdictions are serving as laboratories for innovation to ensure that emergency calls receive the appropriate response. The conference will explore the opportunities and challenges of these community responder models and whether or how the approach may improve community health, lessen the burden on law enforcement, and reduce unnecessary justice system contact.

Taking the Call will be presented virtually on October 20-21, 2021 (more details here).

Our Taking the Call launch event in May featured a conversation addressing the opportunities and challenges posed by these community responder models and whether or how the approach may improve community health, lessen the burden on law enforcement, and reduce unnecessary justice system contact. You can watch the event here.

The conference is presented by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, The Council of State Governments Justice Center, and the University of Cincinnati. The national conference is free and open to the public; pre-registration is required. (Registration is live, but event is pending approval.)

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FAQ

How do I register for the October 20-21, 2021 event?

You can register for the event here. The event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required. *Registration is live, but the event is pending approval.

What are community responder programs?

There is significant variation in the names used for community responder programs and how these programs operate. We define “community responder programs” as mobile responses that deploy behavioral health professionals—such as social workers, peers, outreach workers, and others. Sometimes these behavioral health professionals are deployed in partnership with medical professionals, such as emergency medical technicians, to calls for service.

Community responder programs are most often deployed via 911 dispatch but may also accept calls from local crisis numbers or other referral sources. Community responders answer a range of calls—including those for people in mental health or substance use crisis, welfare checks, trespassing, and disputes.

Why do community responder models matter?

Police are increasingly responsible for solving a range of community issues that they may not be best equipped to address. These calls can often be complex and challenging for officers to respond to, redirecting their attention away from public safety concerns. And they can result in fines or fees, use of force, or justice system involvement.

Innovative community responder programs are demonstrating that deploying health professionals, peers, or community outreach workers can help avoid unnecessary law enforcement contact or transport to emergency departments. Further, these programs can work to connect people to long-term community-based supports, as needed, to support long-term well-being.

What do I need to know about the national conference on October 20-21, 2021?

Taking the Call will occur October 20–21, 2021, as a virtual event. The event is free and open to the public, though advance registration is required. *Registration is live, but event is pending approval.

Taking the Call will bring people together from across the U.S. to explore how jurisdictions are serving as laboratories for innovation to ensure that emergency calls receive the appropriate response. Over two days, attendees will explore the opportunities and challenges of community responder models and how the approach may improve community health, lessen the burden on law enforcement, and reduce unnecessary justice system contact.

Registration for the national conference will open on May 20, 2021.

How can I learn more?

For questions or more information about Taking the Call, please contact Stephanie Shaw at [email protected].