It’s been trialed in several areas, sending out a mental health team instead of the police to respond to certain kinds of calls. Typically calls that involve a mental health crisis, addiction, etc. What we didn’t have yet were real studies to show whether this was having the desired effect. It’s early, but this is promising:
That changed in June when Stanford University researchers Thomas S. Dee and Jaymes Pyne published a study in Science Advances on a civilian responder program in Denver called Support Team Assisted Response, or STAR. The study found that STAR’s pilot program contributed to a 34 percent drop in low-level crime while reducing arrest rates and possibly saving the city money. These findings represent the best argument yet for federal funding of a novel approach to law enforcement that might reduce not only crime, but also the political temperature of the crime issue.
This is promising because we know that far too often, people in a mental health crisis are shot by police or in jail, where their mental health situation only worsens. Those are not only poor outcomes for the individual, but they are poor outcomes for society. We should do things with fewer poor outcomes.
Go read the whole thing for more information on how it’s working.