HSC Explores Expanding Police/Social Worker Partnerships
On August 26th HSC hosted a Joining Forces Forum to discuss expanding current partnerships between human service providers and the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) to more effectively respond to people experiencing crisis in the community. The forum was attended by over 60 community members, including multiple city council representatives, assistant police chiefs, and of course HSC members.
In June, Cincinnati City Council allocated $1M for a pilot program to provide a community-based response to emergencies involving substance abuse, mental health, homelessness, and domestic violence. At the forum, HSC presented the CAHOOTS model that has been used in Eugene, OR and is now being adopted in cities across the country.
CAHOOTS has been in Eugene, OR for over 30 years and is integrated into the 911 system for the city.
- After a 911 call, the dispatcher decides to either send police/fire/EMS or a community-based mobile response team.
- The response teams are comprised of a medic and a social worker to help address non-violent and non-life-threatening issues
- The response teams can respond independently of police or accompany police on runs where a social worker may be helpful.
Potential benefits of a CAHOOTS-style program include:
- Frees up police to handle violent offenders and dangerous cases.
- Allows social workers to quickly and effectively respond to residents who are experiencing a crisis.
- Reduces repeat 911 calls.
- Provides a potential cost-savings by using social workers rather than police or EMS.
- Reduces the number of people being incarcerated by diverting them to treatment or services.
- Provides a more measurable, sustainable and trustworthy approach for interactions between African Americans and law enforcement for improved, equitable outcomes.
HSC is currently in discussions with City Council about the formation of a working group to design the program that would include CPD, representatives of the human services sector, and a variety of community stakeholders.