The County’s Co-Responders Program has successfully redesigned how we best serve our residents experiencing a mental health crisis, while best equipping staff to assist those in need. As a proven leader in providing mental health services to residents, and through programs like the Co-Responders Program, we are setting yet another example for other jurisdictions throughout the country to follow. In Fairfax County, we have learned that asking first responders to deal with issues like mental health alone is not our best strategy. The old model does not work well for anyone – our first responders, those suffering a mental health crisis or the community as a whole.
The County's Co-Responder Program is a partnership between the Police Department and the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB). Through the program, the County employs co-responder teams composed of one Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained police officer and one crisis intervention specialist who provide immediate onsite support to both adults and youth who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis and connect them with countywide and community-based resources as needed. All team members are experienced in working with community members in crisis and receive advance-level training, including intensive scenario-based experience.
The County currently has three co-responder teams that operate in the community every day from noon to midnight, and one team that operates three days a week from 2 to 11 p.m. A fourth team will be added this fall. The relationship between our Police Department and CSB is strong and has seen significant success throughout the years.
As of May 2023, the co-responder team model has resulted in the following positive outcomes:
• Over 1,100 responses.
• Over 50% of calls were resolved in the field with no further action needed.
• Close to a third were diverted from potential arrest and/or hospitalization.
• 26% of individuals were linked to a higher level of care.
This program also aligns with our County’s Diversion First initiative by helping to prevent the incarceration of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities or those who are experiencing a mental health crisis, by instead providing them with the mental health support and resources they need.
If you need support for a behavioral health issue, call the Community Services Board at 703-383-8500. You can also call the Regional Crisis Call Center at 703-527-4077, or text 85511. CSB also offers in-person and online training courses and tools to all residents - https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news/impact-co-responder-program-fairfax-county.
Please join me to meet the new Mount Vernon District Police Station Commander Marc Mitchell next Wednesday, Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. at Sherwood Regional Library, 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane.