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C.A.R.E. (Crisis Alternative Response & Engagement) Team


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On August 30, 2023, the Tompkins County Sheriff's Office, in partnership with Tompkins County Whole Health, began a new co-response team referred to as C.A.R.E. (Crisis Alternative Response & Engagement).  

The C.A.R.E. team partners a specially trained deputy sheriff with a mental health clinician in a dedicated response vehicle. They respond together to calls historically assigned to law enforcement to better serve those in crisis. The C.A.R.E. team’s primary purpose is to provide comprehensive mental health services to persons in mental, behavioral, or emotional crisis. The goals of the unit are to match mental health services to a person in crisis by offering alternatives to emergency petitions, when justified by clinical assessment, increase access to the mental health system resources, increase knowledge/access to community services, divert community members from the criminal justice system when mental/behavioral health issues are the driving force of their actions and reduce the patrol officer’s time in handling such individuals.  

Calls that come into the 911 Center that are typically assigned to C.A.R.E. may include but are not limited to those involving mental health issues, drug dependency, homelessness, and/or domestic abuse-related issues. Referrals for a C.A.R.E. team response may also come directly from community partners and law enforcement officers in the field. In addition, the C.A.R.E. team provides follow-up services for individuals previously encountered during a crisis within 48 hours. We currently have one C.A.R.E. team that works Monday-Friday from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM.  

Since the initiation of this program, the C.A.R.E. team has responded to over 45 calls for service and conducted over 15 follow-ups. In addition, the team has attended over 30 introduction meetings with stakeholder organizations, community partners and schools in the community, as well as met with all other law enforcement agencies in the county.  

The Sheriff's Office is in the process of creating a dashboard that will provide community members not only with insight into data points that will assist with determining the success of the program, but also with identifying gaps in services within our community that contribute to someone experiencing a crisis.  

The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Whole Health Department and the Department of Emergency Response for their coordination in getting this program up and running and their continued commitment to improving it. Attached to this media release is a photo of the team (Deputy Debi Barber and Licensed Mental Health Clinician Rachel Webb) and a YouTube link to a video introducing the team. The video contains two testimonials from community members. The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank those individuals for their eagerness to tell the community about their experience with the C.A.R.E. team.