William James College and Department of Mental Health Co-Sponsor Inaugural Co-Response Research Symposium

Picture of three individuals smiling lined up beside each other for a picture

Left to Right: Dr Andrew Lacey, Dr. Sarah Abbott, and Chief Lester Baker

[NEWTON] - William James College's Center for Crisis Response and Behavioral Health (CRBH), in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH), successfully organized a first-of-its-kind Co-Response Research Symposium on March 31, 2023 at the Warren Conference Center and Inn in Ashland, MA. The event attracted a diverse audience of 80 participants, including clinicians and law enforcement officials from across the state, as well as representatives from both national and international co-response programs, such as An Garda Siochana (Irish Police) and LA County Sheriff's Department.

The symposium served as a platform to underscore the significance of the co-response model, a groundbreaking approach that involves embedding clinicians within local police departments. These clinicians ride alongside law enforcement officers, enabling them to respond more effectively to crises.

With the immediate presence of co-response clinicians at the scene, they can facilitate arrest diversions for individuals presenting with criminal behavior, redirecting them toward appropriate treatment. According to SAMHSA, the model has achieved an average diversion rate of 75%, demonstrating its effectiveness in redirecting individuals away from the criminal justice system and towards the support they need.

Throughout the day-long event, attendees had the opportunity to engage with six captivating presentations delivered by a total of 10 esteemed presenters. The keynote speaker, Dr. Andrew Lacey, Superintendent with An Garda Siochana (Irish Police), shared insights into the inception and successful implementation of the co-response crisis intervention model in Ireland. William James College began a partnership with the An Garda Siochana in 2021 as the country planned its co-response model.

The symposium also featured Dr. Joanne Barros from DMH and Dr. Victor Petreca from Boston College, who presented co-response program data they have collected. In addition, representatives from the LA County Sheriff's Department, including Captain Geoffrey Deedrick, Dr. Pietro D'Ingillo, and David Weiner, delivered a presentation on the ROAR model, which serves as a roadmap for de-escalation and decision-making for first responders, enhancing their effectiveness in crisis situations.

Barsuicidel from LOSSteam MetroWest, alongside Eileen Davis from Mass211, discussed the LOSSteam model, which offers immediate support to suicide loss survivors by calling them to the scene of a suicide.

The symposium concluded with two presentations highlighting co-response initiatives in Washington State. Kimberly Hendrickson, Director of the City of Paulsbo's Housing, Health, and Human Services Department, spoke about the Co-Responder Outreach Alliance and the associated legislation in the state. Lastly, Dr. Kaitlyn Goubeau from the Center for Justice Social Work shared valuable insights into the work her organization does in the city of Arlington, WA.

The symposium served as a powerful platform to promote knowledge sharing, collaboration, and the exchange of best practices among professionals working at the intersection of mental health and law enforcement. By bringing together experts from various backgrounds and locations, the event laid the foundation for further advancements in co-response.

“The collective energy in the room during our Symposium was palpable and highlighted a clear thirst for a co-response community,” said Dr. Sarah Abbott, director of William James College’s CRBH program. “This was truly a meeting of the minds, and we are very much looking forward to building upon this energy next year.”

For more information about William James College's Center for Crisis Response and Behavioral Health, please visit their website at Crisis Response and Behavioral Health.


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