Mayor Tishaura O. Jones, Behavioral Health Response, and Mastercard Commemorate One-Year Anniversary of Cops and Clinicians, 911 Diversion Programs

Cops and Clinicians and the the 911 diversion program are innovative, non-police solutions that connect residents to services and interrupt violence

February 17, 2022 | 2 min reading time

ST. LOUIS - Today, Mayor Tishaura O. Jones joined representatives from Behavioral Health Response, Mastercard, and community members to highlight results of the first year of the of BHR’s diversion programs. Cops and Clinicians deploys a licensed clinical social worker with a police officer to provide immediate mental health services, connect individuals to the appropriate social services, and reduce the need for police and EMS response. The 911 Diversion program aims to divert calls from 911 responders to BHR’s crisis counselors and mental health specialists in order to provide individuals the appropriate behavioral health services, reduce need for police and EMS response, and limit hospitalization and incarceration as crisis response.

“I have been a strong proponent of these kinds of diversion programs to connect the right professional to the right call since 2017,” said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “Cops & Clinicians and the 911 diversion program reduce strain on our police, helping them focus on addressing violent crime while connecting residents to the resources they need. This is just our first step, and as we look to successful national models for guidance like the STAR program in Denver, St. Louis remains committed to exploring innovative ways to reimagine and improve public safety in our city.”

Through a partnership with Mastercard, the city analyzed results and impact of the program’s first eight months of operations. To date, the Cops and Clinicians teams have responded to nearly 5,000 cases. 95% of individuals in crisis have been diverted from arrest and connected to services, with 87% diverted from hospitalization. Mastercard estimates that over 8 months since the program started in 2021, it saved the police department and EMS more than 2,000 work hours to help them respond to other priorities, saving the city an estimated $2.2 million in 2021.

Four out of five cases sent through the 911 diversion program were resolved on the line without requiring police or EMS, saving nearly 500 ambulance dispatches and an estimated $400,000 over its eight months of operations according to Mastercard analysis. 88% of client’s receiving follow up were diverted from additional contact with EMS/police, and 78% were diverted from inpatient care.

 “We commend Mayor Jones for her commitment to ensuring better outcomes for residents of St. Louis in need by driving forward innovative behavioral health programs and ensuring their efficacy,” said Mike Froman, Vice Chairman and President for Strategic Growth for Mastercard. “In providing our Test & Learn capabilities to the city of St. Louis, our data and insights showcase that these programs are not only saving the city money, but are allowing police, EMS and hospital resources to be allocated to priority needs and delivering better outcomes to St. Louis residents. By forging partnerships across the public and private sector, we can foster inclusive and prosperous communities as evidenced by our work with the City of St. Louis and BHR.”

The event featured testimonials from Crisis Response Unit clinicians, peer specialists about the front-line work they do each day.

“A lot of time people get to a criminal place and realize it’s not crime, it’s a crisis,” said Crisis Response Unit Peer Specialist Patricia Johnson. “We are well-trained to de-escalate, listen empathetically, and stay with a person until the situation is defused.”

Mayor Jones remains committed to using innovative, non-police solutions to connect residents to services and interrupt violence while freeing up police to focus on their main job - preventing violent crime. Mayor Jones has allocated $5.5 million through the American Rescue Plan to expand Community Violence Intervention programs in the city and is a part of the White House’s Community Violence Intervention Collaborative.

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