Minneapolis city leaders ‘highlight success’ of Behavioral Crisis Response Program

Minneapolis city leaders ‘highlight success’ of Behavioral Crisis Response Program

Minneapolis city leaders ‘highlight success’ of Behavioral Crisis Response Program

The Behavioral Crisis Response (BCR) Program, which started as a pilot project two years ago, had its track record highlighted by Minneapolis city leaders on Tuesday.

Those in attendance include Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council President Elliot Payne, Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, Community Safety Commissioner Todd Barnette, Director of Neighborhood Safety Luana Nelson-Brown and Canopy Roots leaders.

RELATED: City officials highlight launch of behavioral crisis response team pilot project

Minneapolis officials describe the BCR Program as a service that provides unarmed staff to respond to people in crisis. Those staff are trained to provide intervention, counseling, referrals and connections to other support services.

The program is funded by the City of Minneapolis, which also contracts services with Canopy Roots, a local Black-owned mental health organization.

Frey announced that he expanded the BCR program funding in the 2023-2024 biennial budget with ongoing funding of $1.45 million each year with an additional $2.9 million of annual, ongoing funding. This brings the total annual contract for BCR to $5.9 million.

According to DOJ findings released in June 2023, “BCR currently remains unable to respond to large number of calls for which it is needed.” 

Since the program’s launch, BCR Program Manager Marisa Stevenson says they’ve expanded to 24/7 service with additional vans and staff. Currently, there are 20 full-time workers and half a dozen part-time workers. 

“Since December of 2021, we have been assigned and responded to around 20,000 calls via 911 with zero injuries to service recipients,” said Stevenson. 

Minneapolis City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison says BCR is an urgent need in the community. He notes that mental distress calls are among one of the most time-consuming for officers amid the historically low staffing.

“My hope is that as we can grow this program… five years, 10 years, 20 years down the line, people are really just seeing this as a standalone service and a part of our 911 system,” said Ellison. 

City leaders say 911 dispatchers make the final determination of what service to send out. 

The program was formed after a legal settlement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights which included a requirement to provide adequate funding for behavioral health crisis response teams.

Last year, the Minneapolis Office of Performance, Management and Innovation (PMI) determined that BCR teams responded to more than 7,600 mental health calls and averaged about 140 responses each week in the last quarter of 2022.

RELATED: Minneapolis health crisis teams respond to more than 7,000 calls in 2022

Past coverage of related stories can be found below:

RELATED: Minneapolis city leaders want ‘more data’ on behavioral health crisis teams

RELATED: Minneapolis crisis teams shift to 24-hour daily support

RELATED: Pilot program aimed at lowering responses from Bloomington officers to mental health calls