Pittsburgh Police and Office of Community Health and Safety Selected to Develop Crisis Response and Intervention Team Co-Response Model

PITTSBURGH, PA (July 12, 2021) The City of Pittsburgh’s Office of Community Health and Safety (OCHS) and Bureau of Police have been awarded a Crisis Response and Intervention Team (CRIT) technical assistance and training grant from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Administration to further develop an effective model for police to identify what co-responders can best help in emergency situations.  

As the City expands its program of co-response to ensure those experiencing behavioral health conditions, like mental health and substance use, and intellectual and development disabilities receive appropriate support for emergency calls, the CRIT program will further equip police officers to call in the right co-responders who can make appropriate referrals. The initiative will increase police’s access to training, technical assistance and other resources to develop and deliver multilayered approaches for people whose needs are outside the realm of traditional law enforcement.  

Through this program police will have support to strategically plan crisis response teams, expand relationships with support services and community-based resources, train officers and partners and develop a co-responder academy from national subject matter experts and local partners. 

"As the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police partners with OCHS to develop co-response, alternative response, diversion and enhanced recruit and officer training, it is essential that officers who are dispatched to calls involving people experiencing mental health, substance use and other challenges are well-supported and trained to safely and compassionately address needs,” said Pittsburgh Police Academy Sergeant Colleen Bristow. 

OCHS and Police aim to use this opportunity for the following goals: 

  • Police officers and crisis response teams will be able to recognize individuals in crisis, or at risk of experiencing crisis. 
  • Police crisis response teams will ensure that people experiencing a crisis are given proper care, time, and referrals, including the sub-dispatch of right responders. 
  • Police and partners will have meaningful relationships to ensure that individuals with behavioral health conditions and/or intellectual and development disabilities are connected to resources or aid and diverted from the criminal legal system. 
  • The safety for all community members is the top priority for police and staff. 

“The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is committed to ensuring safer and more supportive interactions with people experiencing mental health challenges and the development of crisis response policy and practice that benefits community stakeholders in general,” said Police Employee Wellness and Resource coordinator Officer Matt Schlick.  

Pittsburgh was one of three cities selected to be a part of this Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Academic Training to Inform Police Responses initiative and the only city selected for enhanced technical assistance. The initiative is managed by the University of Cincinnati School of Criminal Justice with its partners Policy Research Associates, The Arc of the United States’ National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. 



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Molly Onufer
Communications Director
Mayor's Office