Behavioral Crisis and First Response: Qualitative Interviews with Chicago Stakeholders

Conor H. Murray, Juan L. Contreras, Caroline H. Kelly, Deborah K. Padgett, Harold A. Pollack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Improving interactions between first responders and individuals experiencing behavioral crisis is a critical public health challenge. To gain insight into these interactions, key informant qualitative interviews were conducted with 25 Chicago stakeholders. Stakeholders included directors and staff of community organizations and shelters that frequently engage first responders. Interviews included granular depictions related to the expectations and outcomes of 911 behavioral crisis calls, and noted areas requiring improved response. Stakeholders called 911 an average of 2 to 3 times per month, most often for assistance related to involuntary hospitalization. Engagements with first responders included unnecessary escalation or coercive tactics, or conversely, refusal of service. While stakeholders lauded the value of police trained through the city’s Crisis Intervention Team program, they emphasized the need for additional response strategies that reduce the role of armed police, and underscored the need for broader social and behavioral health services for individuals at-risk of such crises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-84
Number of pages8
JournalCommunity mental health journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • 911
  • Behavioral crisis
  • CIT
  • First-response
  • Psychosis
  • SUD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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