Community response partners to participate in alternative 911 Cohort Selection

Kevin PowellCity, Fire Medical, Police

Lawrence Police Chief and Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Chief Announce Alternative 911 Cohort Selection at Commission Meetings
Community Response Partners to Participate in Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab Alternative 911 Implementation Cohort
The Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL) has selected Douglas County and the City of Lawrence as one of 14 jurisdictions nationwide to participate in their 2023-2024 Alternative 911 Emergency Response Implementation Cohort.  It’s an initiative designed to support city and county leaders in developing, improving, and expanding unarmed alternative responses to 911 calls.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Chief Rich Llewellyn and Lawrence Kansas Police Chief Rich Lockhart will introduce members of the initiative at the Lawrence City Commission Meeting Tuesday September 5, 2023 and at the Douglas County Commission Meeting Wednesday September 6, 2023.  Ana Obiora and Yen Mai from the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab will explain the value of the initiative to the community and scope of support.  Both Chiefs will stand for Commission questions after the presentation and be available for press interviews by request.

“When I heard about this opportunity, I knew our community was a great candidate and quickly began working through the application process,” said Lawrence Kansas Police Chief Rich Lockhart. “The policing industry is changing.  Like many industries, we’re being asked to do more with less. At the same time, the people we serve are asking for new ways to respond to crisis. We must do both — and do them effectively. We look forward to the support as we expand our use of alternative response teams while we continue to reimagine policing in Lawrence.”

The Cohort includes nine additional jurisdictions selected this year: Alexandria, VA; Amherst, MA; Baltimore, MD; Cambridge, MA; Los Angeles, CA; Madison/Dane County, WI; Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; and Tucson, AZ.  The GPL continues to support four jurisdictions from the 2022-23 Cohort: Allegheny County, PA; Chicago, IL; San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, CA; and Washington, DC.

“Building on the momentum of participating jurisdictions that have launched, sustained, and scaled alternative response teams over the past two years, we are thrilled to welcome our largest Cohort yet,” said GPL Executive Director Gloria Gong. “We have heard both from leaders across the country and families who have been impacted by interactions with police that their communities need to reimagine their approaches to public safety. Our Cohort’s rapid growth reflects this rising national commitment to ensuring people in crisis receive the right response at the right time.”

Through the Cohort, the GPL provides jurisdictions with pro bono applied research support and technical assistance on an array of innovative approaches to alternative response. This includes supporting jurisdictions in researching and testing approaches to analyzing 911 call data and designing call decision trees, creating training curricula for response teams and 911 staff, procuring services from local providers, writing responder team protocols and procedures, tracking key performance metrics to guide program iteration, identifying barriers to diverting 911 calls eligible for alternative response, and more.

The GPL selected the 2023-24 Cohort from a highly competitive applicant pool of 40 jurisdictions around the country. Selection criteria included the jurisdiction’s vision and commitment to equitably improving community safety and wellbeing; support from local leaders; collaboration across government departments; and commitment to have alternative response teams respond directly to 911 calls.

Leaders from a wide range of emergency response providers and care coordinators throughout the county will participate in this important work, to include:  Douglas County Emergency Communications Center, Douglas County, Lawrence Kansas Police Department, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical, Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ, and Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.

Contact: Laura McCabe, or 785-760-2278