Exploring Innovative Emergency Responses with CAHOOTS

A new collaborative online learning opportunity for cities and community stakeholders committed to implementing innovative models for public safety

  • Start Date: Thursday, April 15, 2021
  • Duration: 8 weeks on Thursdays at 2:00PM ET/11:00AM PT from Thursday, April 15th to June 3rd

The Issue

Traditional emergency and public safety protocols consist of a call to 911 and, in most circumstances, first response by police officers who are dispatched to the scene. Given the wide range and variety of calls to 911, however, not all require the police to serve as the first responders, especially in non-violent situations where there is no imminent threat to public safety. Officer-led responses to these types of situations can overburden already stretched police forces, and unfortunately, in some cases — particularly those related to poverty, behavioral health, addiction, or individuals experiencing homelessness where police officers may not have been trained — have endangered the safety of the individual in need of support.

Alternative Emergency Response: Emerging models for reimagining public safety

Medics talking with a person who needs a place to stay. Image courtesy of The Atlantic.

Sprint Overview

As part of its City Solutions work, What Works Cities is partnering with Everytown for Gun Safety and White Bird Clinic to offer a small cohort of cities an opportunity to learn more about alternative models of emergency response and how to advance the implementation of such models.

  • Be able to identify and analyze dispatch data to better understand how policing affects residents in their city;
  • Be able to build a working group to explore alternative emergency response models, including non-law enforcement mobile crisis program;
  • Understand the necessary steps to develop and modify public safety infrastructure to support alternative teams like mobile crisis teams as first responders; and
  • Understand the necessary concrete next steps to implement alternative emergency response models including mobile crisis response.
  • Racial Equity and Effects of Over-Policing
  • What Does the Evidence Show?: Analysis of Mobile Crisis Response
  • Case Studies and Testimony: Lessons from Crisis Alternatives and Consumer Voices
  • 911 Dispatch: The Gatekeepers
  • Community-Informed Design
  • Making Decisions with Data
  • How Does this Really Work? Risk Mitigation, Responder and Patient Safety, Vehicles, and Logistics

Sprint Details

  • When: Thursday afternoons at 2:00 PM ET/11:00AM PT, April 15 through June 3
  • Where: Weekly 60 to 90 minute webinars and/or cohort discussions delivered via an online learning platform

Who should participate

Cities are encouraged to bring together a team of key, diverse stakeholders in order to maximize the opportunity and establish a foundation for long-term success.

  • Police and Fire Departments
  • 911 Dispatch Center
  • Health and Human Services Department
  • Neighborhoods and Community Engagement Departments
  • Local and trusted health care and mental health providers
  • Local community-based nonprofits and organizations
  • Community foundations and other local funders

Participation requirements

  • Sprint team has demonstrable progress towards exploring and/or implementing alternative emergency responses
  • Demonstrated leadership support and commitment to sprint objectives
  • At least one city government staff member on the sprint project team
  • Have submitted a What Works Cities Assessment (If your city has not, please submit an assessment by June 30, 2021)
  • City’s mayor is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (If the mayor is not currently a member, he or she can join here)
  • Complete an application form by April 8, 2021

Sprint Facilitators

Weekly sessions will be led by White Bird Clinic. Speakers will include experts and practitioners with deep experience in this issue, including Portland Street Response, Denver STAR, and Vera Institute for Justice.

Important dates

  • Registration deadline: Thursday, April 8, 2021
  • Sprint begins: Thursday, April 15, 2021
  • WWC Assessment must be completed by: June 30, 2021


Email CitySolutions@results4america.org with any questions.

Helping leading cities across the U.S. use data and evidence to improve results for their residents. Launched by @BloombergDotOrg in April 2015.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store