Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the SPD crisis response team and the dual dispatch pilot?

SPD’s Crisis Response Team (CRT) pairs a behavioral health professional with a CIT trained officer as a pair in a police vehicle, most often responding to higher acuity calls that could pose a threat to safety. Dual dispatch is when police and the CARE team behavioral health professionals respond at the same time, but as different units, to lower acuity calls where there is no known threat of violence or medical emergency. The dual dispatch model will allow the officer to leave once the scene is safe and to respond more efficiently to more 9-1-1 calls.  

SPD CRT will continue to respond to higher acuity crisis calls throughout the city. This team has been active since 2012 and provides a vital service to our community.

Where does this pilot operate?

The pilot will initially serve the downtown area, aligning with the Downtown Activation Plan area that is a priority area of focus for Mayor Harrell and other community leaders. The hope for this program is to see it grow and develop to serve all neighborhoods in our community. However, expansion will not happen until the design is tested and deemed to be effective and useful.

When does this pilot operate?

Crisis data informed the original hours, which are 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. 9-1-1 call data and police reports indicate that there are more calls mental and behavioral health crises during these hours.

How are you going to keep unarmed responders safe?

9-1-1 operators will gather information to best predict when the CARE responders should be dispatched, and during the initial phase of the pilot, SPD officers will ensure that the scene is safe prior to leaving. CARE team responders have extensive training on scene-safety, de-escalation; and crisis prevention/intervention.

CARE team responders will always respond in pairs and are equipped with radios and other gear standard in crisis response. Most people experiencing mental health crises are non-violent and are best served by skilled practitioners who are unarmed.

What training do responders have? 

CARE behavioral health responders all have prior crisis response field experience as well as relevant bachelor’s or master’s degrees, and some are certified peer counselors.

Responders went through a rigorous training plan collaboratively developed by CARE leadership, Seattle Police Department (SPD), Fire Department (SFD), and Downtown Emergency Service Center. The training was designed with support from the University of Washington and the Washington Co-Responder Outreach Alliance.

Can I request one of these responses?

These services are only dispatched by Seattle 9-1-1, determined by clear protocols that assess risk and indicate what would be the best first response.

What kinds of calls for service are eligible for CARE Community Responders?

Initially the CARE responders will respond to low-acuity, non-violent, non-emergent, non-medical, calls for service. The initial two call types in 9-1-1 are termed “welfare check” and “person down.” The CARE team will only respond to calls that do not require enforcement of any kind.

How is this pilot being evaluated?

The pilot implementation is being externally evaluated by researchers at Seattle University. Early indicators that will determine effectiveness include how safe CARE responders felt during the call, whether they perceived their interactions to be effective, and the extent to which other first responders and community providers feel the approach is useful and should expand.  The data team will track how many calls the team responds to and will analyze whether police officers have greater capacity to respond to higher priority (Priority 1 and Priority 2) calls.

Community Assisted Response and Engagement (CARE)

Acting Chief Amy Smith
Mailing Address: PO Box 94607, Seattle, WA, 98124-6907
Phone: (206) 625-5011 (For non-emergencies)
Contact CARE

Learn about CARE, Seattle’s 911 Center that provides emergency and non-emergency responses.