On December 7, 2021, CharMayne Jackson, a Law Enforcement Clinical Specialist for Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, was elected to serve as a board member of the International Co-Responder Alliance (ICRA). The International Co-Responder Alliance’s (ICRA) mission is to unite, promote, strengthen, and expand multi-disciplinary co-responder programs while improving outcomes for first responders, behavioral health professionals, and individuals affected by mental health and substance use disorders. Jackson collaborates and co-responds with the Gainesville, Florida Police Department to connect individuals suffering from behavioral health issues to the best possible care and treatment.
Jackson is one of fourteen ICRA board members and serves as the only representative for the state of Florida.
“It’s such an honor to be amongst m so honored to be a part of a community that promotes care coordination, health care, and the criminal justice system simultaneously,” said Jackson.
Police officers are often the first point of contact for individuals struggling with mental health, substance use, and other behavioral health disorders. Co-response, the pairing of a mental health technician with a first responder, aims to de-escalate these situations, promote positive law enforcement interactions, and facilitate access to care.
“As IRCA board members, we each bring our own wealth of knowledge to the table based on our own co-response programs, so we can best assist others who are interested in starting a program in their town,” said Jackson.
In April of 2018, Meridian launched its first co-responder program with the City of Gainesville and the Gainesville Police Department. It’s been Meridian’s utmost, long-term strategy to expand this vital program and in June of 2020, Meridian partnered with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO).
An emerging body of evidence suggests that the co-responder program reduces arrests, incarceration, and emergency room visits while effectively connecting people to care. In 2021, the co-responder program has had outstanding outcomes resulting in 349 jail diversions and 79% of individuals who could have been baker-acted were diverted.
“We’re embedded in the cars with our law enforcement partners,” said Jackson. “That’s what makes the difference.”
Further, Meridian will seek to expand the co-responder program in coordination with all our partners to provide quality options for those affected by mental illness and substance use disorder. Co-response teams often serve to make the sum of the system greater than its parts by promoting care coordination among agencies, health care, and the criminal justice system.