After a brief hiatus due to the pandemic, the Community Response Team (CRT) has resumed services in Tulsa. CRT is an integral part of the City of Tulsa’s Community Policing program. This 3-person co-responder model consisting of Tulsa Police Department (TPD), Tulsa Fire Department (TFD) and Family & Children’s Services Community Outreach Psychiatric Emergency Services (COPES) responds to 911 mental health calls. Due to COVID, CRT procedures have been adjusted in order to keep first responders and mental health professionals healthy and safe.
“We are excited to start again this week,” said Emily Farmer, COPES clinical supervisor. “The team will be working the same days with shorter hours. In order to allow for appropriate safety measures, basically, they’ll be wearing masks all day (even while riding together), which makes it a bit harder. Everyone will undergo temperature checks and other screenings daily, and they will practice social distancing while on calls.”
The CRT also will not enter homes but rather ask individuals to come outside and talk. Emily said this practice is simply to ensure safety for all who are involved.
As a rapid response team, the agencies work together to create more efficiency in operations and treatment while also de-escalating situations with individuals in mental health crisis, helping avoid costly stays in jail, hospital emergency rooms, and inpatient behavioral health hospital units. The team responds to mental health calls and assists clients with alternative resources without calling upon additional public safety personnel.