Co-Responder Teams Address Mental Health Crises in Knoxville

~ from the Office of Neighborhood Empowerment

In the fall of 2020, local leaders established the Co-Responder Program within the Knoxville Police Department. The program pairs a behavioral health specialist from McNabb Center with a KPD officer to respond to situations in which a person in distress or crisis needs treatment or time to deescalate before the situation becomes a criminal offense. The team’s goal is to divert people with mental health and substance misuse issues away from jail and criminal charges, instead connecting them to community resources.

The co-response model is endorsed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Crisis Intervention Team International, Inc. (CIT). Our local program was developed to reflect successful practices used in other U.S. communities.

To learn more about the co-responder model and explore additional data, download a report at

If you would like someone from the Co-Responder Program to speak to your neighborhood group about what is being done to address mental health issues in our city, please contact Lillie Kilbarger at