Law enforcement and other first responder diversion program models provide a structure for first responders to redirect individuals with substance use disorder (SUD), mental health disorders (MHD), or co-occurring disorders away from placement in jails or emergency departments to connect them to community-based treatment for substance use, mental health disorder, housing services, or social services. This article describes five frameworks for such first responder diversion options, each of which has the goal of providing a structured response that diverts a person exhibiting problem behaviors due to substance abuse, mental health disorder, or other treatable condition to an appropriate medical or treatment agency. For each of the pathways described, the target population or circumstance appropriate for the pathway is indicated. The two diversion pathways called “Self-Referral” and “Active Outreach” are each suggested for individuals with substance use disorders. The “Naloxone Plus” diversion pathway specifically targets individuals with an opioid-use disorder who have experienced a recent overdose requiring a first responder intervention. The “Officer/First Responder Prevention” diversion pathway targets persons in crisis or with non-crisis mental health disorders, substance use disorders, homelessness, or prostitution. Under this pathway, no charges are filed or arrests made. The fifth diversion pathway, called “Officer Intervention” targets persons in crisis or with non-crisis mental health disorders, substance use disorders, homelessness, or prostitution and may involve noncriminal citations to report to an appropriate program or charges are held in abeyance until a treatment or social service plan is completed.
Law Enforcement and First Responder Diversion Pathways to Diversion Case Studies Series: Officer Intervention
Bureau of Justice Assistance