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Posted on: May 4, 2021

New Co-Responder Pilot Program Begins

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The Village's new Co-Responder Pilot Program begins this week to increase awareness and recognition of behavioral and/or mental health crisis incidents to promote the best intervention and outcomes for those experiencing a crisis. 

This initiative is a collaborative effort between the Skokie Police Department, specifically police officers and communications staff; the Village’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Department and the Skokie Fire Department. The program pairs first responders and social worker staff to respond to behavioral health-related calls for emergency services. The combined expertise of the Skokie Fire and Police Departments, in tandem with HHS staff, stands to de-escalate situations and link individuals with behavioral health issues to appropriate services at the time of crisis.

On scene when responding to emergency calls involving a mental health or behavioral crisis, the Village team will work to not only de-escalate the situation but also to provide behavioral health screening and assessment, linkage to needed services and more. Aftercare case management will be provided by HHS social work staff. 

The Co-Responder Pilot Program offers the opportunity for cross-training between first responders, behavioral health staff and community health stakeholders to achieve a greater understanding of the best possible interventions and outcomes for the community. Some of the objectives of the pilot initiative, that takes place during May 2021, include:

  • De-escalate situations
  • Provide immediate care, support and advocacy as real-time crisis intervention
  • Refer or link to needed services and alternative care
  • Reduce recidivism, or repeated situations involving the same individuals
  • Provide follow-up and ongoing case management
  • Divert individuals from the criminal justice system or from being  hospitalized/institutionalized
  • Improve interactions between law enforcement and community members
  • Increase the percentage of calls for service responded to by HHS staff

During the pilot initiative, the Fire and/or Police Departments will respond to emergency calls for service. Communications operators will screen calls and assign a Crisis Intervention Team Officer or Fire Department personnel to respond if the call relates to a behavioral or mental health crisis. After conducting an assessment of the situation, HHS social work staff will be contacted if necessary to join the first-responder team onsite and assist with the response.

During this pilot, extensive data will be collected and analyzed to determine if continuing the program is warranted and feasible, and if so, what adjustments might be necessary to further improve the program. More information on the Co-Responder Pilot Program will be published in future editions of NewSkokie and other Village communication outreach.

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