The intention of this page is to provide those who are curious about police alternatives with some basic information about existing successful community response team models, give general information about how and why those organizations work, and link organizers and/or organizations with the resources and support they need to create or reform existing programs in to more autonomous, community, and care centered models moving forward. We are not affiliated in anyway with the organizations on this page.
AN EXISTING MODEL WITH PROVEN LONG-TERM SUCCESS
CAHOOTS is an organization in Eugene, Oregon, that responds to mental health, housing, and substance abuse crises. They provide non-emergency first aid, conflict resolution/mediation, and transport to services if needed. While they take approximately 20% of the 911 service calls in the Eugene area (about 24,000 calls in 2019), their budget of $2.1 million is about 2.8% of Eugene Police Department’s budget of approximately $70 million. Other states have begun to adopt the CAHOOTS model as many cities consider reallocating funding from police budgets to include a civilian response team.
We encourage everyone who is not familiar with the idea of police alternatives to check out CAHOOTS’ website and do a bit of reading about their work. Below is the link to their page.
GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR A FUTURE OF COMMUNITY RESPONSE
As of right now, we consider the CAHOOTS model to be one of the best possible frameworks for a mobile response team. While circumstances might be different depending on the city/county/state and acknowledge that what works for one area might not work for another, learning about the CAHOOTS model is a great place to begin for anyone looking to start or promote organizations that might serve as police alternatives in the future.
The article linked below, co-authored by Patrisse Cullors (Artist, Activist, Abolitionist, and Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter) and Tim Black (Director of Consulting at WhiteBird/CAHOOTS), gives a solid overview of alternative response models, some key qualities that make them successful, as well as explaining why community organizations like CAHOOTS are necessary in the first place.
We encourage everyone to read the full article, but will quickly highlight some of the key elements the authors identify as general, guiding principles for community response teams. They are as follows:
[A model crisis response program should] Be separate from law enforcement: A crisis response program should be entirely separated from law enforcement. This includes team members, managers, and anyone in an oversight position. [...]
[A model crisis response program should] Include on-site, on-demand emergency and preventative services: Crisis response programs should provide both emergency and preventive services. This means meeting people where they are and referring people to necessary services and treatment. [...]
[A model crisis response program should] Be fully funded through law enforcement budget reallocation: Funding must be provided to both create and operate a crisis response team. [...]
LOGISTICS + TECHNICAL CONSULTING FOR ORGANIZERS + ORGANIZATIONS
For organizers, organizations, or municipalities interested in forming a mobile response team or adjusting an existing team to move toward the guiding principles listed above , CAHOOTS has assembled a media guide which provides key facts, detailed statistics, budget breakdowns, and general considerations for those interested in adopting and adapting the model within other communities. CAHOOTS also offers technical consulting and assistance for organizations who are serious about learning more and getting started. Information about how to contact them for consulting services can be found in the media guide linked below.
It is important to note that many, if not most, of the organizations that we vet or research on a daily basis do not currently meet all of these criteria. In fact, there are very few that we've found that truly meet all of these standards. However, at present, InsteadOfPolice considers the CAHOOTS model to embody what is currently one of the best possible models for responding to individuals experiencing crisis. Therefore, when vetting our leads, we keep these qualities in mind and ask ourselves whether the organizations we contact meet enough of these standards to be worth recommending to a wider audience and frequently choose not to list them if we feel they may cause harm. If they do not meet our criteria, we do save their information for future reference and try to direct them to this page so they can be informed and put in to contact with other organizations that graciously have offered to provide support and consulting in order to help them better serve their communities.