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Designed to Do Good: Key Findings on the Development and Operation of First Responder Deflection Programs

NCJ Number
Date Published
7 pages

This article on the development and operation of first responder deflection (FRD) programs finds that FRD offers alternatives to traditional policing.


The findings of this article on the development and operation of first responder deflection (FRD) programs reveal how FRD offers alternatives to traditional policing, including its role in advancing racial and social equity by aligning public health and public safety for those who otherwise might enter the justice system. Opioids and drug overdoses have claimed more than 750 000 American lives since the late 1990s. Overdoses since the mid-2010s have risen dramatically, due to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl whose lethality is disproportionately greater than street drugs of earlier decades. Until recently, most police and other first responders lacked resources beyond arrest to respond to overdoses and other nonviolent crimes. FRD has enabled first responders across the United States to save lives by training them to administer naloxone, a medication that blocks opioid receptors after overdose, then linking these individuals to community-based treatment and services. Consequently, FRD has helped keep many citizens out of the justice system entirely, giving them a chance to rebuild their lives and become productive members of their communities. TASC's Center for Health and Justice and National Opinion Research Center at The University of Chicago collaborated on a national FRD survey encompassing a comprehensive overview of the field and its role in responding to the opioid crisis. This article will discuss the methodology, key findings, and policy implications of this national survey (encompassing more than 300 active FRD programs). The authors present results on the development of FRDs and how they operate. Results will cover the extensive involvement of law enforcement agencies in initiating FRD initiatives; the role of non–first responder partners in providing treatment and services through FRD; and the scope of Medication-Assisted Treatment in these programs, among other important findings. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2022