Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $550,000)
In view of the relevance of the NAMI TN-led BJA-2019-151020 funding in support of CIT in the rural Upper Cumberland region, and to ensure the continued success of statewide strategic planning and coalition development activities to implement behavioral health crisis alternatives, the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs, in partnership with NAMI TN, is requesting funding through the BJA FY 21 Connect and Protect: Law Enforcement Behavioral Health Responses (ID: O-BJA-2021-121001) to pilot an alternative behavioral health crisis response program in Cookeville, TN modeled on the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) program. This community-led behavioral health crisis intervention, grounded in the experience and expertise of a local community-led collaborative partnership—including Cookeville Police Department, Putnam County Emergency Communications, VBHCS, UCHRA, and NAMI TN—will supplement, extend and strengthen state efforts. The development of a robust alternative behavioral health crisis response is resource intensive, particularly for rural jurisdictions. This community-led, cross-sector approach will work with local and regional partners to engage stakeholders, develop infrastructure, train, operate and evaluate the CAHOOTS pilot to build a sustainable behavioral health crisis response model.
The overall purpose of this proposal is to improve behavioral health crisis assistance in Cookeville through the planning and implementation of a CAHOOTS motivated pilot that shifts crisis response toward more safe and effective interactions among law enforcement, behavioral health providers and individuals with mental illness, substance use disorders, and their families and communities. Tennessee has been on the frontlines of recent transformations in behavioral health and mobile crisis services, and it can use the opportunity of new funding and options provided under legislation like the American Rescue Plan Act to leverage its experience and expertise to chart a course for a more robust community behavioral health system that can help people avoid hospitalization and incarceration.
This proposal is requesting priority consideration for a CAHOOTS motivated model that centers work that would increase access to justice for the target population through its partnership with LAS and inclusion of legal resources in its curricula and service provision. In addition, the pilot will focus its efforts on high-poverty census tracts in the Cookeville area. Finally, through its partnership with VBHCS, individuals diverted to the community mental health center will have access to a range of appropriate gender-responsive community-based treatment and services.