Mayor's Budget Proposal Expands Co-Responder Program

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
kfarley@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Mayor's Budget Proposal Expands Co-Responder Program

Posted: 05/14/2021
Mayor Indya Kincannon’s proposed 2021-22 budget continues her commitment to reimagining public safety through the expansion of the co-responder program.

The Knoxville Police Department and The McNabb Center announced the co-responder pilot program in 2020. The program pairs a master's level behavioral health specialist alongside a specially trained KPD officer in order to respond to calls for service that present a behavioral health need.

In its first few months, from October to December 2020, the team responded to 71 calls and made 44 referrals for social services. Newly released 2021 first quarter numbers show even greater success, with 108 calls and 72 referrals between January and March 2021.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Mayor Indya Kincannon. “This new team is helping our residents access much needed mental, behavioral and substance abuse services. People are getting real help, and additional teams will allow the Co-Response program to serve even more people.” 

The pilot program consisted of one team. With Mayor Kincannon’s allocation of $400,000, the co-responder program would have four teams, covering 7 days a week.

“The pilot phase of the co-responder program proved that this model can deliver real assistance for those experiencing mental health or substance abuse crises,” Chief Eve Thomas said. “Even with only one co-responder team operating on a limited day shift schedule, we were encouraged by the results of that phase. Growing this program will create more opportunities for the co-responders to meet residents who need assistance when they need it the most and provide the resources that they need.” 

“Our goal is to partner with law enforcement in order to get people the help they need,” said Leann Human-Hilliard, McNabb Center clinical vice president. “In addition to responding to behavioral health related calls, the program’s Masters Level clinician has conducted 193 follow-up visits. By continuing to reach out to many of the individuals touched by the co-response team, we can break down barriers to accessing services.”

The co-response model is fully endorsed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Crisis Intervention Team International, Inc. (CIT), and was developed to reflect successful practices used in other U.S. communities. 

To learn more about the co-responder model and explore additional data, download a report at KnoxvilleTN.gov/coresponder.

Mayor Kincannon’s budget was presented for a first reading at City Council on Tuesday, May 4. A second Council vote on the proposed budget is scheduled for Tuesday, May 18.

Visit KnoxvilleTN.gov/budget for more details, including a summary of how Mayor Kincannon’s budget supports her administration’s five key priorities: public safety; a clean and resilient future; healthy and connected neighborhoods; thriving businesses and good jobs; and good governance.