WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) introduced the 911 Community Crisis Responders Act, which would create a grant program for states, tribes, and localities to create and expand mobile crisis response programs, made up of specialized service providers, that serve as a first response to nonviolent emergency calls. These programs enable communities to enhance public safety, deliver better outcomes for community members, and reduce strain on the resources police departments expend on responding to these calls.
“We must transform our approach to public safety to ensure that all members of our communities are safe and the most vulnerable community members get the care and treatment they deserve. Mobile crisis response teams such as Health One in the City of Seattle are crucial to this mission and have already demonstrated great success in connecting individuals in crisis with the services they need and reducing unnecessary interactions between police and community members,” said Congressman Smith. “Investments from the federal government are critically and urgently needed to advance this public safety model across the country and more effectively address the nationwide mental and behavioral health, substance use, and homelessness crises we are seeing in our communities.”
“9-1-1 receives more than 240 million calls every year with a majority of the calls relating to mental health issues,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation which will enhance and expand mobile crisis response teams to support our communities and reduce the strain on law enforcement resources.”
The 911 Community Crisis Responders Act is endorsed by American Association on Health and Disability, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Arc, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, Police Treatment and Community Collaborative, American Friends Service Committee, and Valley Communications 911.
Statements of support for the 911 Community Crisis Responders Act:
“The Seattle Fire Department strongly supports passage of the 911 Community Crisis Responders Act of 2023. Civilian crisis response teams are rapidly emerging as a best practice for safe and meaningful field intervention in nonviolent behavioral crises in our communities. In Seattle, Fire Department and community-based teams alike assist thousands of people a year with de-escalation, safety planning, medical care, transportation, and social service connections. This bill will strengthen the field of crisis response and provide more resources for people in need.” – Chief Harold Scoggins, Seattle Fire Department
“As the Executive Director of a large 911 Center in Washington State, I applaud this bill. Establishing resources to better serve the public in mental and behavioral health emergencies is long overdue. When people call 911 for help, the appropriate resource should be available to send in the moment, not days or weeks later. Standing up a new discipline of emergency responders, which this bill outlines, is critically needed today.” – Lora Ueland, Executive Director, Valley Communications Center 911
“Mobile crisis response teams provide a timely and appropriate alternative to law enforcement when someone is experiencing a suicidal or mental health crisis and is a vital component of an effective crisis care continuum. AFSP applauds Rep. Smith and Rep. Fitzpatrick for introducing this important legislation, which will ensure greater access to community-based mental health services, supports, and resources in coordination with 988 call centers and public safety dispatchers, getting people in crisis the care they need, when and where they need it most.” – Laurel Stine, J.D., M.A., Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
“Americans recognize our emergency response system is in need of repair. Not only have we created unnecessary stress and impossible workloads for law enforcement by asking them to respond to calls they are not equipped to handle, police are not always the right people to respond to every call. We need to let law enforcement focus on serious crime and ensure that calls that do not need an armed response are handled appropriately by specially trained crisis response teams better equipped to handle them. LEAP is proud to endorse the 911 Community Crisis Responders Act because it will provide the resources to enable the type of transformation in public safety that we need while ensuring responsible oversight into how the funds are used.” – Lt. Diane Goldstein (Ret.), Executive Director, Law Enforcement Action Partnership
“NASMHPD endorses and supports the 911 Community Crisis Responders Act as all states, regions and local communities continue to build crisis response, especially for non-violent emergency calls, for individuals in behavioral health crisis who are in need of being connected to services and resources with integration between 911 and the 988 crisis continuum.” – Dr. Brian Hepburn, Executive Director, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD)
"In Chicago, the American Friends Service Committee trains community members in mental health crisis response and de-escalation because non-carceral alternatives to police response are not widely available. The 911 Community Crisis Responders Act is a step towards our vision for a world free of police violence, where those in crisis are given access to resources instead of being put in danger." – Mary Zerkel, American Friends Service Committee
"The Police, Treatment, and Community Collaborative is pleased to support the 911 Community Crisis Responders Act. As the national voice of the field of deflection, PTACC recognizes the critical value of mobile crisis response teams to safely and properly deflect people in mental health crises where services and support are what are needed most to help the person. To make this type of response more accessible and to coordinate these efforts between 911 and 988 requires funding. The 911 Community Crisis Responders Act will support this important next step in the evolution of how communities across our country deflect and divert people to treatment, housing, services, and care instead of using the justice system." – Jac Charlier, Police, Treatment, and Community Collaborative