PMHC programs support law enforcement agencies around the country in planning and implementing effective public safety responses to people who have mental illnesses.

Law enforcement agencies have used police-mental health collaboration (PMHC) programs to help officers safely and effectively respond to calls for service involving people with mental illnesses for decades.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) launched an online toolkit in partnership with the CSG Justice Center that supports law enforcement agencies around the country in planning and implementing effective public-safety responses to people who have mental illnesses.

The PMHC Toolkit outlines the overall benefits of PMHC programs in five sections: learning about PMHC programs; planning and implementing; training; managing; and measuring.

In 2020, the CSG Justice Center launched the PMHC Self-Assessment tool to help law enforcement agencies and their behavioral health partners assess their progress toward implementing high quality partnership-based interventions. This tool is designed to provide resources to help improve responses to calls for service for people with mental illnesses and/or co-occurring substance use conditions.

PMHC News

Key Staff


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Sarah Wurzburg
Deputy Division Director, Behavioral Health
Sarah Wurzburg oversees technical assistance focused on behavioral health, diversion, and reentry and serves as the lead for projects related to substance use, mental illnesses, and housing. She leads the work on the development of community responder programs, including a
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toolkit that supports sites in development of non-police responses to people in crisis. Previously, Sarah was a research analyst at the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, Inc., where she was the team lead for Youth and Women’s Services and was the primary author of research reports on youth substance use disorder treatment, driving under the influence, and Medicaid. Sarah has also worked as a juvenile court advocate and in community substance use disorder prevention. She received her BA from DePauw University in English (writing) and her MA in social services administration with a focus on policy analysis from the University of Chicago.
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    Julia Kessler
    Project Manager, Behavioral Health
    Julia Kessler works with state and local law enforcement agencies to enhance collaboration between law enforcement, other criminal justice agencies, and behavioral health agencies. Before joining the CSG Justice Center, Julia was a senior program associate with the National Police
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    Foundation (NPF) where she worked with law enforcement and communities around the U.S. to advance evidence-based policing practices to promote more inclusive and safe communities. Before joining NPF, Julia served with the United States Agency for International Development. Julia received her BA from Kenyon College and her MS in criminology from the University of Pennsylvania.
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    Ethan Aaronson
    Senior Policy Analyst, Behavioral Health
    Ethan Aaronson provides technical assistance to Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program grantees and Law Enforcement-Mental Health Learning Sites. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, Ethan worked at the Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs, where he assessed how
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    well local governments met the human service needs of residents. He also was the data manager for a project that supported individuals with co-occurring diagnoses in reentry. Previously, he was a counselor in New Jersey and Oregon, helping young men prepare for their return home after completing probation or parole. Ethan earned BAs in political science and history from the University of Vermont and his MA in criminal justice from Rutgers University.
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