New crisis response team in New Haven making an impact

Community response team making a difference in New Haven
Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 8:57 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2023 at 9:35 PM EST
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WFSB) - Back in the fall, New Haven launched a pilot program of a crisis response team that gets dispatched along with first responders to certain calls.

After the first 90 days, the city says it’s making an impact.

“We see mental health, we see substance use, we see homelessness. We see all of it and our job is to try to assist and help where we can,” said Nanette Campbell, Elm City COMPASS.

In the first three months, Elm City COMPASS, New Haven’s Crisis Response Team which Nanette Campbell and Sarah Alkrie are apart of, have responded to 250 calls.

A team of a social worker and peer recovery support specialist were there to lend a hand.

“70% of the calls COMPASS is responding to are related to people dealing with some sort of mental health crisis or substance use challenge,” said Mayor Justin Elicker.

About 40% of the calls have been dispatched through 911 with the team going out to assist police and fire.

The other 60% is the team seeking out those in need or at risk, with the big drivers being the recent spike in opioid overdoses and the cold snap earlier this winter.

“The larger number of outreach that happed this winter, December and January in particular were because of the cold spells, where the team was out in the field, trying to get people into warming centers, shelters,” Dr. Jack Tebes, Director, Elm City COMPASS.

COMPASS, which stands for Compassionate Allies Serving our Streets, helps those in need get connected to mental health, substance abuse, or housing services.

Those on the front line say in addition to that It’s often just being someone there to talk and listen, and more importantly showing a sense of care.

“Active listening is a big part of it and then also approaching it like it’s someone in your own family, yourself. I think all of us know we’re one step away from being a crisis ourselves so I think it’s really important to approach a person in a humane way and just to talk to someone,” said Sarah Alkire, Elm City COMPASS.

Phase two of the pilot program will be this summer, when they’ll add a second team in July, expanding coverage from 8am to midnight, every day.