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ICRA Statement in Response to CIT International’s Position on Co-Response 

In July 2021 the CIT International Board published a statement titled, Why doesn’t CIT International promote the embedded co-responder model? The statement explains why, in the CIT International Board’s opinion, communities should not adopt embedded co-response programs, and law enforcement agencies should not collaborate with mental health clinicians to create co-response units.

ICRA recognizes the CIT Board’s right to distance itself from co-response programs (embedded or otherwise) but take strong objection to this statement. The International Co-Responder Alliance (ICRA) is an association of individuals from police, fire, EMS, and behavioral health agencies engaged in co-response work. We know, first-hand, how effective this approach is in practice. Co-response teams increase access to short and long-term behavioral health treatment, help de-escalate crises, and provide an invaluable service to first responders and the communities they serve. We understand that co-responder programs are not the only solution to the burgeoning need for behavioral health services, but they are a key part of a broader continuum of care. ICRA's position is that co-response teams should not only be supported but encouraged, and best practices should be identified that can help people in this field be more knowledgeable and effective. 

ICRA welcomes members from all co-response programs: embedded or non-embedded, led by police, Fire or EMS, focused on crisis response or follow up care. We also welcome members working in CIT programs, as well as any other programs that recognize the critical role first responders play in helping people who are struggling with behavioral health issues, mental illness, and substance use disorders.   It is impossible for one response model to fix our fragmented, inequitable crisis response system. We must leave room for variety and assist communities in determining what works best for their unique needs, including everyone with the ability to be a part of the solution. This is exactly why ICRA was established - ICRA was established to unite, promote, strengthen, and expand multi-disciplinary co-responder programs, while improving outcomes for first responders, behavioral health professionals and individuals affected by behavioral health issues.

It is not ICRA’s intent to tell programs how to operate, but to help you connect with other professionals to learn and problem solve common issues together.  Visit our website at www.coresponderalliance.org to learn more about ICRA, the National Co-Responder Conference and to become an ICRA member.

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