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A Different Response to 911 Calls is Urgently Needed

January 16, 2024
Sources: Bazelon Center and Vera Institute

Read the new issue brief by the Bazelon Center and the Vera Institute of Justice, “New Federal Guidance for Alternatives to Police for People with Behavioral Health or Other Disabilities.” The issue brief analyzes recent guidance issued by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, which makes clear that people with mental health and other disabilities should receive a health response—not a law enforcement response—in circumstances where others would receive a health response. “A health-focused team of workers with mental health expertise should be deployed instead of the police, just as an ambulance would be dispatched to help someone experiencing a physical health emergency.”

The new federal government guidance is an important step forward, but the Bazelon Center and the Vera Institute urge all levels of government to undertake greater investment in and clarity around the prioritization and implementation of unarmed crisis responses for people with disabilities over police-led approaches. Read the full issue brief (PDF).

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