Launched in March 2021, the Community Response Team (CRT) is part of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s efforts to ensure that every person in Orlando is equally valued and protected.
The CRT is a City of Orlando program, led by the Orlando Police Department in partnership with Aspire Health Partners, to provide a new line of first responders - behavioral health experts - to respond to residents experiencing a mental or behavioral crisis. Residents can access the CRT by calling 911 or OPD’s non-emergency line at 321.235.5300.
Since the program started and through March 2023, the CRT has responded to nearly 2,000 calls for service involving residents experiencing a mental or behavioral health crisis. The CRT is able to respond to residents, providing immediate crisis support, as well as follow up navigation to support services. Furthermore, by responding to these calls, it is estimated the CRT has saved an estimated 2,200 hours of police time.
The need for mental health support continues to grow. To meet the growing need of residents, the city recently hired a full-time Mental Health Intervention Manager to oversee the CRT and other mental health programs. In addition, an in-house clinician has now been added to the CRT, and is able to triage calls in the 911 call center.
Also, through the support of a philanthropic partner, the Ballmer Group, the City of Orlando recently hired three individuals to create the Equitable Outcomes Team (EOT) to help ensure the program is equitable, effective and able to continue making an impact in our community. The EOT supports the CRT in the short-term and builds long-term capacity so the team can serve even more residents in need.
Other benefits of the program include reduced referrals to the criminal justice system and hospital emergency rooms and increased OPD efficiency by allowing officers to focus more on efforts where residents really need and want them – on law enforcement and community-oriented policing.