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Identifying Points of Intervention: Collaboration between Boston Emergency Services Team & the Boston Police Department

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $419,714)

The Boston Police Department (BPD) and the Boston Medical Center’s Boston Emergency Services Team (BEST) have been collaborating on a co-response program since 2010. Last year, co-responder teams responded to 3,685 calls for service. With strong advocacy from its City Council, the City of Boston has institutionalized co-response by making it part of the operating budget, providing funding for clinicians throughout the City to serve Boston’s 695,000 residents. This investment began in 2019, when the City provided funding for 2.5 clinicians. In FY21, in response to anti-police sentiment following the George Floyd incident, the City re-allocated $2 million from the BPD overtime budget to hire 15 additional Master’s-level BEST clinicians to co-respond with BPD officers to the mental health needs of community members. With well over 10 years of strong collaboration, the BPD-BEST partnership continues to grow and strengthen and has fundamentally changed for the better the way the BPD responds to mental health-related calls. Despite this strong partnership, however, these two organizations have yet to integrate their data. 


The University of Massachusetts (UMASS) Lowell proposes to use JMHCP funds to integrate BPD and BEST data for 50-100 Boston community members who are high utilizers of emergency services, with a focus on women with mental illnesses. To protect the privacy of the community members involved, BPD and BEST employees will de-identify their respective data and make it securely available to UMASS Lowell researchers. The BPD and BEST will consult on data integration with the intent of institutionalizing a data sharing process that allows for analysis while maintaining the privacy of people experiencing crises. UMASS Lowell researchers will analyze the data and, in collaboration with BPD and BEST, they will use these data to identify specific points of potential intervention for these residents to avoid the need for future crisis response. Once the data are connected, they can also be used to indicate any gender-specific differences in the use of police and mental health services—differences that are not currently explored. By integrating these two data sources, we can strengthen the collaboration between BEST and BPD while enhancing services to the City of Boston’s most vulnerable residents. UMASS Lowell, which has not been a previous recipient of JMHCP funds, requests $419,714 in federal funds to accomplish the proposed goals.

Date Created: September 26, 2023