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Deschutes County, Bend PD seeing early success in new Community Crisis Response Program

(Adding video, comments from Deschutes County Behavioral Health, Bend Police)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- In partnership with local law enforcement agencies and Deschutes 9-1-1, Deschutes County Behavioral Health recent launched a new Community Crisis Response program and says it's already making a difference.

The county’s mobile crisis team has been providing local crisis intervention services with and without law enforcement for more than 20 years. This program is an expansion of the mobile crisis team’s capability to respond to crisis calls without law enforcement partners, increasing community accessibility to crisis services. 

Deschutes 911 is now transferring low-and moderate-risk mental health crisis calls to a team of mental health clinicians who can provide crisis services in the community without law enforcement.

Since the program's launch on May 1, there have been more than 550 calls concerning a mental health crisis.

To this point, 88% haven't required a response from law enforcement.

"What we're able to do is get referrals directly from 911, and we're actually able to make that determination in-house" Behvioral Health Manager Adam Goggins told us on Monday.

For nearly three months, the Deschutes County Crisis Team has been dealing directly with mental health calls without involving the Sheriff's Office or Bend Police.

Bend PD Communications Manager Sheila Miller detailed exactly what calls the Community Crisis Response Team responds to.

"The CCRT can respond to calls of a person experiencing mental health crisis who isn't dangerous," she said.

Goggins added, "Mental health had always been a second responder, even a third responder. This changes the equation to where we're now a first responder."  

Even with nearly 90% of the county's crisis team calls resulting in no need for law enforcement, there are still guidelines to help determine the appropriate response. Goggins detailed those guidelines.

"If there is any safety concerns for the individual who is in crisis, for the community at large or our responders, then we would definitely involve law enforcement in that, because they are certainly the experts in the safety field," she said.

"This would be someone who had means to hurt themselves or others. They might be armed, maybe they have a criminal history or a history of violence that would make sending someone who isn't a trained police officer to help them, more complicated" Miller told NewsChannel 21.

Last year, Bend police officers responded to 1,900 mental health-related calls.

“Often when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, a law enforcement response isn’t necessary,” said Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz. “The Community Crisis Response Program allows professionals with expertise to respond to these calls for service, helping people in crisis get the help they need.” 

Goggins said, "I think it just improves accessibility for folks, and makes it that much easier for them to reach out and get that help during crisis."

Deschutes 911 will continue to dispatch law enforcement and Fire/EMS to high-risk calls, while the Community Crisis Response Team will serve a supportive role.

"This is the right thing to do for our community and public safety,” said Deschutes County Sheriff L. Shane Nelson. “I am proud of our partnership with Deschutes County Behavioral Health, and thankful they are moving forward with this program. Not every call should involve a uniformed law enforcement officer, and this will be productive."

The county's Crisis Response Team may call on Bend Fire and other emergency medical service teams to help with someone in crisis that isn't a threat to themselves or others.

Bend police have seen an increase in the number of officers able to patrol the streets due to not needing to respond to every crisis call.

In 2022, the crisis team responded to 3,759 calls for service. Of those calls, more than 1,700 were to assist law enforcement agencies. 

To learn more about Crisis Services in Deschutes County, visit

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


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