For several years, we continued to convene conversations through the Power Behind the Badge Series to understand community needs and the limitations of our current arrest-and-incarcerate model. These conversations led us to advocate for a two-year First Responder Alternative (FRA) Pilot Program (a.k.a. Civilian First Responder Pilot) in St. Louis County.
Imagine you’ve got an emergency. Maybe someone you love is having a mental health crisis. Maybe you hear a disturbance in your neighborhood.
What if you could call 911 and have a dispatcher assess the situation, then send a team of civilian first responders who arrive at the scene in a well-equipped FRA van?
The team of civilian responders could work together to secure the scene, conduct a brief mental health assessment, ask the person what support or services they might need, and give the person in distress a care package – with food, hand warmers, a bottle of water, and socks – as well as make a referral to a social services provider in the area.