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Connect and Protect: Law Enforcement Behavioral Health Response Program


The Connect and Protect: Law Enforcement Behavioral Health Response Program is designed to support law enforcement and behavioral health cross-system collaboration and to improve public health and safety responses to and outcomes for individuals with mental health disorders (MHDs) or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders (MHSUDs) who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

Program objectives include the following:

  • Design and implement a crisis response program based on current best practice to assist law enforcement officers in improving encounters with individuals who have MHDs or cooccurring MHSUDs.
  • Plan and deliver a crisis response program, through coordination between law enforcement and a mental health agency, that includes services to improve or enhance the response.
  • Build positive community relations and trust through public communication strategies.
  • Enhance officer knowledge and skills in responding to community members with MHDs or co-occurring MHSUDs.
  • Plan for multidisciplinary stakeholder teams to support police officers and mental health crisis workers responding together to mental health calls through strategic planning initiatives at the state, tribal and local level.

Connect and Protect is part of the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP).

Program Funding

There are not currently any opportunities available through this program. See the Past Funding and the Funding Awards pages for access to previously available solicitations and funding award details associated with this and other BJA funding programs.

Successful Application Examples

Following are examples of project narratives associated with past applications that have successfully received funding through this program:

The Boston Police Department (BPD), in partnership with Boston Medical Center’s Boston Emergency Services Team (BEST), are seeking Connect and Protect funds to enhance its behavioral health response efforts. They will use these funds to: (1) hire a full-time master’s-level BEST clinician to serve as the Section 12 coordinator within the Street Outreach Unit; (2) embark on a culturally sensitive educational campaign to inform Boston residents about enhancements to the BPD’s mental health response efforts, including the Section 12 program; and (3) work with an academic partner to evaluate the program’s effectiveness. The City of Boston received the following JMHCP awards: FY 2010, FY 2013, FY 2016, and FY 2019.

The Community Assessment Response and Engagement (CARE) project is a coordinated effort of the Tucson Police Department (TPD) and Connections Health Solutions to launch a law enforcement/mental health co-responder model. The CARE team will consist of a bachelor’s level clinician who will serve as the program manager and two case navigators/peers. The CARE team will respond to real-time crisis events, provide community stabilization, conduct follow-up/wrap around case management (e.g., assist with skill building, transportation to primary care and other health appointments, securing ID for patients, and connecting patients to same-day housing placement), address complex medical issues, and train law enforcement personnel across Pima County in de-escalation techniques, crisis intervention, and trauma informed care. This team will prioritize individuals at risk of harm with mental illnesses or co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders, women with mental illnesses or co-occurring substance use disorders, and individuals with a moderate to high risk of recidivism.

The CARE team will act as a force multiplier for the well-established Mental Health Support Team and will serve 500 adults and juveniles per year. To develop the CARE team, a multi-agency planning committee that includes law enforcement, community treatment providers, prosecutors, and public defenders will be created. The task force will develop policies and procedures for the CARE team, identify and deliver pertinent trainings for the team (e.g., trauma-informed care and motivational interviewing), craft the necessary data sharing agreements, ensure quality data collection protocols are in place, create a mission statement, and hire the new CARE team staff members during the planning phase of the grant. During implementation, the CARE team will respond to calls and collect data, which the project partners will use to evaluate the program’s impact on behavioral health disparities related to access, engagement, and retention in Medication-Assisted Treatment; health-related treatment and services; substance use and mental health outcomes; and law enforcement encounters.

The Colorado Department of Public Safety will be building on the work done for its 2019 planning grant to better connect individuals who call 911 because of a behavioral health crisis to the care they need. The Colorado Department of Public Safety’s Division of Criminal Justice will partner with the Colorado 911 Resource Center, Colorado Office of Behavioral Health, Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners, Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention, and a number of other partners to accomplish the grant goals. The goals identified for the grantee team are: (1) create an interactive web-based planning and decision-making tool for region-specific specialized responses; (2) develop a specialized response program registry and interactive map; (3) develop and provide several e-Learning courses for emergency responders; and (4) designate Colorado state Police Mental Health Collaboration peer learning sites modeled after the national Law Enforcement-Mental Health Learning Site program. Beyond these goals, the project partners will: (1) explore the possibility of a voluntary registry for individuals who want their disability information available to emergency responders when dispatching specialized response units, and (2) developing a model peer specialist pilot program that will focus on post-crisis engagement and navigation of supportive services to decrease the occurrence of repeat crisis interventions. A portion of the grant will be subcontracted to a yet-to-be determined agency to pilot the peer specialist navigation program. The model developed during the planning phase will determine the number of individuals that will be served. The Colorado Department of Public Safety received the following JMHCP awards: FY 2019.

The Pine Belt Co-Responder Program (CoRP) in Mississippi is a collaborative effort between local Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)-trained law enforcement officers and Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources’ (PBMHR) Mobile Crisis Response Team to respond to and follow up on behavioral health crisis calls in southern Mississippi. The goals of this collaboration are reducing reliance on jails and emergency rooms and improving treatment engagement for people with mental illness and co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders. The Pine Belt CoRP team is seeking to expand the co-responder team to the Hattiesburg, MS area, which includes Forrest and Lamar counties. PBMHR will hire a mental health clinician and community support specialist for the mobile crisis response team. They will also continue to train and certify CIT officers and seek to expand and adapt this training to include dispatch and correctional officers.

The Pine Belt Crisis Intervention Team will be expanded and enhanced to provide two law enforcement CIT certification classes per year, and PBMHR will give officers the option to join the mobile crisis co-responder team in person or via telecommunication. The Daily Living Activities functional assessment will be administered to program participants to measure their baseline functioning and assist with case planning; it will be re-administered every six months. The program evaluator will provide project officers with systems and client-level data to assist with program monitoring and related decision-making processes. Region XII Commission on Mental Health, Mississippi, or Pine Belt Mental Health received the following JMHCP awards: FY 2015 and FY 2018.

Training and Technical Assistance

The JMHCP has two support centers that offer free, on-demand training and consultation. Center staff provide support that is tailored to meet agency, community, and jurisdiction needs, including example policies, advice about program design, connection to subject matter experts, arranging visits to a learning site, and more.

Additionally, the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s National Training and Technical Assistance Center provides no-cost training and technical assistance on a wide variety of criminal justice topics to improve the knowledge and skills of criminal justice professionals. Agencies interested in receiving training and technical assistance (TTA) can submit a TTA request through an online application.

Date Modified: May 7, 2024
Date Created: December 18, 2023