Police officers are currently asked to take on the roles of mental health specialists and social workers when responding to behavioral health crisis calls, working outside the policing skills emphasized in their training and ignoring their finite resources.1 Unlike social workers who are trained to intervene during behavioral health emergencies, police officers often do not have access to the resources that address the underlying socio-economic and political determinants of health. By failing to acknowledge the root causes of these societal issues, traditional policing methods run the risk of upholding a system that perpetuates the criminalization of marginalized communities through law enforcement.2
Amidst recent social movements spurred by high-profile police brutality cases, municipalities across the nation have been urged to reimagine traditional policing practices. Community-police partnerships in the form of police-based specialized models, mental-health-based specialized models, and co-responder models have been tried over three decades in the United States in varying capacities and forms. The Town of Hamden, CT currently has a number of innovative alternative policing initiatives operating at the individual, neighborhood, and organizational level. Building upon this, the Hamden Police Department (HPD) in collaboration with the Keefe Community Center hopes to implement a streamlined, sustainable alternative policing model to foster community trust while addressing safety and health needs.