The Prince William Board of County Supervisors approved funding in the FY2021 budget to support a Co-Responder Program. The Prince William County Co-Responder Program began in November 2020 and is a joint collaborative effort between the Police Department and Community Services. It consists of three police officers, three clinicians from Community Services, one clinical supervisor and one police lieutenant.
Through consultation with other Co-Responder Programs across the nation and the local National Alliance on Mental Illness, it was discovered that the model that best fit the needs of Prince William County is the "embedded model." This model pairs a master's level mental health clinician with a crisis intervention trained police officer in a marked police cruiser.
The primary responsibility of the Co-Responder Program is to respond to calls, as a team, in an attempt to de-escalate situations involving persons in crisis and offer the appropriate services in the community. As a result, the team can put the person in touch with resources that can assist with their specific needs, which may help reduce the potential for crisis in the future.
The calls primarily come into the Public Safety Communications Center with additional encounters including self-initiated calls by officers. The secondary responsibility of the team is to follow-up with persons that the team has previously assisted or has learned needs outreach.
The goal is to foster supportive relationships with residents and help them connect to services that can provide them with the highest quality of life possible. As the team expands, it will begin taking outreach requests from local agencies, such as Community Services and the Department of Fire and Rescue.
If a citizen is experiencing a mental health crisis that requires emergency intervention, they should contact the Public Safety Communications Center by calling 9-1-1 and requesting either a Co-Responder Team or a Crisis Intervention Team officer. Currently, the three Co-Responder Teams are on duty during the daytime and evening hours, Monday through Friday.
The teams cover the jurisdictional area of the Prince William County Police Department. Opportunity for expanded time coverage is expected if the team is able to expand in the future.