Challenge

Assessing the Efficacy of the Police-Social Services Co-Responder Model for Community-Wide Mental Health

City of West Sacramento
November 2, 2020

At-a-Glance

Category:

Data Analytics, Data Collection, Data Privacy, Health and Human Services, Public Safety

Procurement Method:

Application Period:

October 6, 2020

 - 

November 2, 2020

Q&A Period:

October 6, 2020 - October 19, 2020

University Partner:

Challenge

The City of West Sacramento is seeking a comprehensive and practical research feedback solution to assess the efficacy of the police-social services co-responder model for our residents.

Background

The City of West Sacramento’s Police Department has utilized a “co-responder model” over the past five years. Under this “co-responder model”, mental health professionals accompany police officers to calls related to homeless individuals and a multitude of service calls.

On July 15, 2020, the City proposed to reallocate funding for five (5% of the city’s officers) vacant Police Officer positions, to instead fund the creation and implementation of the Police Department Division of Community Outreach and Support to expand the Department’s “co-responder” approach to public safety that focuses on supporting those in crisis or otherwise suffering from mental illness, substance abuse disorders, homelessness, or other conditions. Currently, mental health professionals are available to accompany police officers for 70 hours of the week. 

The primary goals of using the “co-responder” model are the following:

  • Better serve some of our most vulnerable residents and those who find themselves in crisis situations 
  • Proactive efforts should lead to fewer calls for service, better outcomes for those served, and ultimately lower costs to the public
  • Provide specially trained (and potentially clinically licensed) staff resources to respond to situations that normally require a police officer to take the lead response role
  • Help the Department make the most of its limited law enforcement resources while potentially reducing the risk of responses that may require use of force
  • Shape police culture in a positive way through greater empowerment of non-sworn staff, alternative approaches to policing, and more emphasis on community engagement

There have been previous efforts to measure the impacts of the “co-responder model” in the past 5 years however due to inconsistent metrics and data collection, it was not sustained. The Police Department, Mayor’s Office and City Manager’s Office want to properly set in place a sustainable and robust metric system that can continually assess the effectiveness of the “co-responder model” and can inform the division of how to improve the “co-responder” model. The City would like to think of the model to include everything from the initial 911 call the public  makes to the response of the police and mental health professionals. 

Learnings about potential issues from previous efforts:

  • Individuals recording data during calls can be error-prone and resource-intensive 
  • Constraints around data privacy with individual’s medical information - police officers do not have access to an individual’s medical information when they respond to calls 
  • The Police department does not know what happens to individuals after they respond to a call 
  • Cultural stigmas around mental health

The research team will be able to access following resources :

  • Reports on the previous measurement efforts
  • Access to Police Department Division of Community Outreach and Support personnel and police chief 
  • App that displays voluntary data on cognitive disabilities of individuals within 80 feet radius 

Additionally, West Sacramento is collaborating with the City of Austin and potentially a few other cities across the U.S. who are also interested in using data-driven evidence to identify and improve effective public safety models. The research team can leverage these other jurisdictions that we are partnering with, whether it be larger data sets or their assessments system. Research teams should be able to collaborate with those city’s academic teams.

 

Requirements & Outcomes

The City of West Sacramento is seeking the following outcomes and requirements: 

  • Determine the most meaningful data metrics to measure the efficacy of this program
  • Determine an effective procedure to consistently collect data metrics identified above
  • Be a robust system that provides both quantitative and qualitative data analysis
  • Be able to work around the HIPAA privacy laws 
  • Collect data on outcomes of these calls (e.g. were community members able to get connected to the support they needed after the response)
  • Provide insights on outcomes of “co-responder” model and how to potentially improve the model for the community members 
  • Measure how police officers change after working with social services  
  • Academic teams should understand how to work with government agencies and the sensitivities around data privacy issues, public safety initiatives, as well as the diverse perspectives in the community

Additional Desired Outcomes:

  • Comparative analysis of West Sacramento with other jurisdictions 
  • Public education aspect that guides the public on what to report in the initial call so that the public, 9-1-1 operators, and police officers can use the same language to provide additional context of the situation
  • Corresponding education piece that integrates public safety dispatchers into the response model
  • Finding ways to address the situation effectively and get the correct information while removing racial bias by proxy and the stigma around mental health

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