Rethinking How Law Enforcement Is Deployed


Eugene, Oregon, saved $14 million in emergency medical services in 2019 after implementing Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS), a program that removes law enforcement from first response situations that are nonviolent with a behavioral health component. 

To mitigate the risk of harm, municipalities have tasked non-law enforcement responders with addressing nonviolent social and medical issues and narrowed police discretion and duties in traffic enforcement. Many have enacted co-responder models which pair officers with unarmed community responders such as licensed clinicians and social workers. Others have created alternative first responders, such as crisis teams, which remove officers from the response altogether. Many jurisdictions have also taken steps to disincentive police from initiating pretextual stops and shift away from stopping drivers for nonmoving violations. This report documents which of the largest law enforcement agencies enacted such reforms between January 2020 and July 2022.

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Key Findings:

  • At least 15 of the 50 top jurisdictions implemented new co-responder programs in this period, 28 had at least one program in place prior. 
  • 19 of the top 50 jurisdictions adopted alternative first responder programs. 
  • San Francisco’s Street Crisis Response Team diverted 58 percent of mental health calls that would have previously gone to law enforcement since 2020.
  • Several jurisdictions, such as Berkley, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia, have enacted reforms that either limit police discretion in traffic enforcement or entirely transfer enforcement to other agencies.
Ram Subramanian & Leily Arzy
The Brennan Center For Justice