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How do we move mental health issues out of 911 response?

Lead Agencies 

Department of Behavioral Health (DBH)


Dr. Barbara Bazron

Office of Unified Communications (OUC)


Heather McGaffin

Fiscal Year(s) Funded

FY21 - present




Bernadette Boozer

For More Info

Community Response Team

Program Summary 

The Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) Community Response Team (CRT) serves as a rapid response unit to be sent to mental health-related 911 calls instead of police officers. The Office of Unified Communications (OUC) 911 call takers receive specialized training to identify times when the CRT units should be sent and whether a police response is appropriate.

How does it help? 

At times when 911 is called the best response for the situation may be a behavioral health specialist. The sooner the needs can be identified, the sooner the situation becomes safer, and the sooner the individual can get help. This program reduces mental-health crises from escalating and tends to vulnerable individuals. Individuals can receive an immediate assessment and determination for services – triage, assessment and referral, an immediate and in-person response, medical services, or law enforcement if deemed necessary.

Who uses this program?

This program is for anyone in DC who is involved in a 911 call and exhibits a mental or behavioral health need.


The 911 Call Diversion pilot started on June 21, 2021. Since then, the Access Helpline has received 521 calls that were diverted from the 911 Call Center. Of the 521 calls received, 142 calls were diverted to the Community Response Team for deployment and in-person and onsite assessment and de-escalation.

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