Community Response Teams to Serve Orlando

Last updated on February 22, 2021


Licensed professionals will serve as first responders for residents experiencing mental health crises

ORLANDO, Fla. ---- As part of Mayor Buddy Dyer’s efforts to ensure that every person in Orlando is equally valued and protected, the City of Orlando and the Orlando Police Department are partnering with Aspire Health Partners to launch the Community Response Team (CRT).

This one-year pilot program will have trained mental health professionals, in teams of two, responding to some non-violent calls for service, to focus on de-escalating and connecting those in need to treatment and support services. Orlando police officers will still respond to all calls involving armed individuals or threats of violence and can also refer calls for follow-up by the CRT, when it’s not on duty.

The new CRT members have been training side-by-side with the Orlando Police Department for the past two weeks, and they will begin responding to calls for service on Sunday, February 28. As the program moves forward, data will also be collected and analyzed to provide insight on its effectiveness, any needed modifications, and recommendations for future services. 

“During the last few months, we’ve had a lot of community conversations, and one of the things we heard from our residents is they want Orlando Police Department officers to focus on law enforcement and building relationships through community-oriented policing,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.  “This new pilot will help further our efforts to do just that by having behavioral health professionals, in lieu of police, be the first responders for residents who are experiencing a mental health crisis.”

Police Chief Orlando Rolón said that the department responds to an average of around 50 calls a day regarding individuals who need help with mental healthcare.  “Both the community and our officers have expressed interest in having trained mental health professionals respond to non-violent calls for service. This partnership reaffirms our commitment to re-defining public safety. Through this program, social service professionals -- not just law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics -- can also be the first to respond to calls for help,” Chief Rolón said.

Each CRT is made up of a a licensed clinician and a case manager employed by Aspire Health Partners.  “Individuals in crisis need appropriate behavioral healthcare that is best provided by trained clinicians.  We are excited to be involved in this new, innovative approach,” said Babette Hankey, CEO of Aspire. 

For media broadcasts and publications, we’ve provided a download link containing interviews with Mayor Dyer, Chief Rolón, an Emergency Communications Supervisor, and two of our Community Response Team members, as well as b-roll from the team’s ongoing training, and the vehicle they will be driving.  We’ve also linked a document with a detailed overview of the program and how a call for service will be handled, and a video rundown.

Any media teams who have more interest in this topic can to book a time to interview Community Response Team members and other relevant OPD and Communications personnel at the Orlando Police Department on Tuesday, February 23.  Please email promptly to ensure your time gets scheduled.



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