Alternative First Response

Because these traditionally have been the only responders available, any non-fire or non-medical call has generated a police response: welfare checks, noise complaints, minor traffic incidents, mental health crises, and a slew of other noncriminal matters. And as is all too familiar, using lethally-armed police to respond to these calls too often results in unnecessary harm—especially in Black and Latine communities.

In response to these concerns, over the past few years, municipalities across the country have begun to establish alternative responder programs. These are designed to provide more effective and less harmful responses by specially-trained EMTs, peer responders, or clinicians. Alternative responders handle a defined subset of calls for service alone or alongside police officers.

For the past two years, CICS has carefully developed partnerships with alternative response organizations across the nation on research and programming designed to support the development of this burgeoning community.

In June 2023, CICS co-hosted a national convening in partnership with NYU’s Policing Project that brought together over 150 stakeholders from across the country to build a community of practice around critical issues in this growing field.

Watch the video from the convening here: