Expanding First Response: A Toolkit for Community Responder Programs

Past Event
January 19, 2022, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Eastern

For decades, Americans have called 911 when they are experiencing an emergency or are in need of assistance. While this can be an effective way to deploy first responders, many community advocates have argued that it too often results in police officers being dispatched to resolve situations better handled by health and social service professionals. Now, jurisdictions across the country are reimagining their approach to public safety by investing in community responder programs that position health professionals and staff trained in crisis response as first responders to handle behavioral health (i.e., mental health, substance use, and overdose) crises and social disturbances.

Join The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center for a Justice Briefing Live event that will explore an array of community responder models tailored to local needs to improve health outcomes and reduce reliance on law enforcement. The event will showcase the CSG Justice Center’s Expanding First Response toolkit—an unprecedented resource serving as a central hub for local communities and states looking to establish or strengthen these programs. The event will draw on the experiences of emerging models across the country to present key issues critical to success, including how to implement a responder program as part of a comprehensive crisis system.

The livestream event is free and open to the public; pre-registration is encouraged.


  • Moderator: Sarah Wurzburg, Program Director, Behavioral Health CSG Justice Center
  • Co-Moderator: Dionna King, Technical Advisor, Overdose Prevention Program, Vital Strategies


  • Tim Black, Director of Consulting, White Bird Clinic
  • Anne Larsen, Outreach Services Coordinator, Olympia (WA) PD
  • Elizabeth “E” Ruebman, Managing Director, Newark Community Street Team
  • Aqeela Sherrills, Director, Newark Community Street Team
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