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Critical Elements for Implementing First Responder and Officer Referral Deflection Programs

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Event Dates

Across the United States, first responder agencies—law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services (EMS), and community responders—are collaborating with behavioral health practitioners, case managers, and service providers to implement First Responder Deflection (FRD) programs. These innovative initiatives redirect individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) and other unmet behavioral health needs away from the justice system and into community-based treatment and services. There are six frameworks of FRD; these frameworks are referred to as pathways because, through them, first responders can offer access, or pathways, to community-based treatment, services, and resources to support individuals in need.

Every day, law enforcement officers and other first responders encounter individuals suffering from the effects of SUDs, mental health conditions, homelessness, and poverty. These encounters can include disruptive behavior, overdoses, illness, or criminal behavior. The First Responder and Officer Referral Pathway is a preventative approach that can provide alternatives to involvement in the justice system by linking people with unmet behavioral health needs or quality of life issues to treatment and services.

During this webinar, representatives from first responder and officer referral programs in Bernalillo County, New Mexico and Longmont, Colorado will describe their programs and discuss critical elements needed to plan, implement, and sustain first responder and officer referral programs.


  • Bernalillo County, New Mexico, Law Enforcement-Assisted Diversion Program/Let All People Advance with Dignity (LEAD)
    • Rachel Murphy, Community Programs Supervisor
    • Diane Dosal, MPA, Behavioral Health Compliance and Program Manager, National Alliance on Mental Illness Board Member, Officer (ret) Albuquerque Police Department, New Mexico
  • Longmont, Colorado, Law Enforcement-Assisted Diversion Program (LEAD)
    • Emily VanDoren, Diversion Program Manager, Collaborative Services, Public Safety Department, Longmont, Colorado
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police
    • Karen Maline, Project Manager, Alexandria, Virginia

Date Created: August 15, 2023