Co-responder program yields positive results

Co-responder program yields positive results for law enforcement and clients 

One of the programs I am most proud of here at SummitStone began in 2016 as a response to the increasing number of calls police were answering that were not necessarily criminal in nature, but more related to mental health concerns. Our co-responder program pairs behavioral health clinicians with police officers to respond to those calls and assist in de-escalating the situation, provide behavioral health screenings and help those clients receive the help they need. The goal is to divert people from jail or the emergency room when mental health assistance is more appropriate.

Since the program began in Loveland, co-responder services have increased exponentially, from 89 calls the first year to 2,569 in 2020. This past year, 71% of these responses were able to be resolved on scene, allowing law enforcement to reduce hours spent processing a case and saving time and money, and allowing officers to redirect their time to law enforcement. The need is obvious, and Loveland City Council has taken notice.

Last week, council members invited Chief Ticer and representatives from SummitStone to discuss the possibility of growing the co-responder program. A proposal to fund at least two additional co-responders was put forward and it seems to have initial support from council members. This is a great start.

We plan to continue meeting with the City of Loveland and the Loveland Police Department to determine how together we can fund the growth of the co-responder program. This is truly an example of the synergistic community partnerships we work to develop across Larimer County. We have been able to expand the co-responder model that began in Loveland to include similar programs with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, Estes Park Police Department and Thompson Valley EMS, which now work under the umbrella of the Larimer Interagency of Co-Responders — partly funded through a grant from the Office of Behavioral Health. Our goal now is to seek other grants that can assist in expanding the program to include more co-responders and peer specialists who assist in follow-up and engaging clients with available resources and ongoing care.

It is a remarkable achievement to have established co-responder coverage throughout Larimer County and I am excited to continue to scale this program, which has already seen remarkable results. As one council member said, “Let’s dream big.” And so, we will. Stay tuned for more developments.

Yours in good health,

Michael G. Allen, MBA, LCSW

Photo courtesy of Loveland Reporter-Herald