Town Hall Series: Exploring Alternative Policing Models for Behavioral Health Crises

As communities examine the way that traditional policing is currently done, we see more and more questions on how police respond to people in mental and behavioral health crises.

How and where is this current model coming up short? And what are some alternative approaches that could be more effective, less expensive, could result in better outcomes, and most importantly, could save lives?

We’ve convened an expert panel to talk these models, their benefits, costs, and implementation.

This was recorded live on the evening of May 4th.


Dr. Amy Watson is a professor in the Social Work Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her research has focused on police encounters with persons with mental illnesses and the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model. She has also conducted research on mental health courts and prison re-entry programs. Her current work is looking at models to reduce/eliminate the role of law enforcement in mental health crisis response.

Tim Black is Director of Consulting for White Bird Clinic in Eugene, OR. White Bird Clinic launched CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) as a community policing initiative in 1989. Tim has an extensive background in direct service, harm reduction, and mobile crisis intervention. He is currently focused on assisting communities and municipal governments in the development and implementation of programming based on the CAHOOTS model of behavioral health first response service.

Senator Manka Dhingra is the Deputy Majority Leader of the Washington State Senate. She is also Chair of the Senate Behavioral Health Subcommittee, and Vice chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee. She was selected as one of one of the Washington branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s 2019 Behavioral Health Champions, for her commitment to improving the entirety of Washington’s behavioral health system.

She serves as a Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. As Chair of the Therapeutic Alternative Unit, she helped develop and oversee the Regional Mental Health Court. She is also a former instructor at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission for the 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training for law enforcement officers.

Theme music from
“Pure Joy” by Otis Galloway
License: CC BY (