Kennedy School Lab to Launch Alternative 911 Response Initiative in Five Jurisdictions | New

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Harvard Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab announced last week the selection of five domains that will participate in a new initiative to implement alternative responses to non-violent 911 calls.

The initiative is supported by the Government Performance Lab at the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at the Kennedy School, which works with state and local governments to find solutions to various social problems. Starting this fall, the initiative will last approximately 12 months.

The GPL has selected Durham, NC, Harris County, Texas, Long Beach, California, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Phoenix, Arizona to participate in a program that will create or enhance unarmed emergency response teams that move away from traditional law enforcement by connecting residents to mental health, addiction treatment and other services.

The five jurisdictions were selected from a pool of applicants of over 60 across the country based on their level of ‘community and stakeholder engagement’, progress towards implementing alternative 911 responses and potential impact, as part of a growing shift across the country towards finding alternative approaches to public safety.

In a press release, GPL executive director Gloria Gong said she was excited about the potential for alternative responses to 911.

“It’s exciting to hear from communities across the country who are committed to shaping more responsive and fairer public safety systems, especially for communities of color who are often underserved by existing approaches,” said Gong said.

The GPL will provide technical assistance to accelerate and improve the implementation of alternative 911 interventions, including creating training programs for response teams, designing 911 call decision trees, preparing documents for emergency response. community information and purchasing services from local providers.

“Building alternative 911 intervention models can enable communities to provide a wider range of services to residents that better reflect the challenges they face and reduce the opportunities for unintentional harm,” Gong added.

Local government leaders also said they were eager to work with the GPL to improve public safety in their cities.

“We want the residents of Durham who call 911 to receive the most effective and appropriate response to meet their needs,” Durham Mayor Stephen M. Schewel said in the press release. “Sometimes it’s a police officer, and sometimes it’s a mental health worker or other trained, unarmed crisis responder.”

Other local leaders said the initiative is an opportunity to build on the progress they have already made.

“We are grateful to have had the opportunity to create another Crisis Response Team with the support of the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “This effort builds on a long history of providing health-focused approaches to homeless and mentally ill people in Long Beach.”

—Editor-in-Chief Joshua S. Cai can be contacted at [email protected]

– Editor-in-Chief Eric Yan can be contacted at [email protected]


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