Across the United States, law enforcement and other first responder agencies are collaborating with behavioral health practitioners, peers, and service providers to implement deflection and pre-arrest diversion programs to redirect individuals with substance use and mental health disorders away from the justice system and into community-based treatment and services. There are five frameworks or pathways of first responder deflection and diversion: (1) Self-Referral, (2) Active Outreach, (3) Naloxone Plus, (4) First Responder/Officer Prevention, and (5) Officer Intervention. Of these, Officer Intervention is the only pathway that is a true pre-arrest diversion program, in that it is offered in lieu of arrest and can only be implemented with the participation and support of law enforcement agencies.
The Officer Intervention pathway is centered on connecting eligible individuals to treatment and services to address the underlying reason for their alleged offense while still holding them accountable. To accomplish this, officers identify eligible participants during routine activities—like a “call for service”—and offer the person an opportunity to engage in treatment and services. In some programs, if the person agrees to participate in the program, their charges are held in abeyance until the agreed upon treatment plan is completed. If the program plan is not completed, charges may be filed.
During this webinar, representatives from officer intervention programs in Blue Earth County, Minnesota, and Orange County, North Carolina, will describe their programs and discuss critical elements needed to plan, implement, and sustain officer intervention programs.