Published on March 02, 2022

Today, Mayor Luke Bronin joined city leaders, public safety officials, and three local partner organizations to officially unveil the “HEARTeam”, the city's newly-established civilian crisis intervention team. 

The HEARTeam (Hartford Emergency Assistance Response Team) is a coalition of three partner organizations who will provide an alternative response to emergency calls for service involving residents in emotional crisis, including mental health episodes. The HEARTeam initiative will allow for a tailored emergency response. Upon receiving a call to 911, emergency dispatchers will assess the situation and send HEARTeam responders to assist in the situations where specialized non-law enforcement intervention is most effective. Each of the three partner organizations will have a distinct responsibility within the HEARTeam. Capitol Region Mental Health Center will continue to serve as the state agency provider of mobile crisis services to adults, responding to adults in grave distress or situations involving major mental illness. The Community Renewal Team will be deployed for adults exhibiting less acute emotional distress; they will focus on de-escalation and linkage to services, deploying a social worker and a peer responder working side-by-side.  Wheeler Clinic will respond to children and youth under 18 who experience any behavioral health crisis.  In addition to 911 calls, Wheeler Clinic will continue to be accessible through 211.

“We receive thousands of emergency calls every year involving individuals in emotional or mental distress, where immediate assistance is required, but where law enforcement officers may not be needed and may not be the most effective responders," said Mayor Luke Bronin.  "With the HEARTeam, we will have specialized and trained responders, able to respond quickly to intervene, de-escalate, provide support, and connect people to services. The HEARTeam will be a valuable supplement to our emergency first responders, and are a part of our commitment to addressing the mental health needs of our community more effectively.  I want to thank Capitol Region Mental Health Center, Wheeler Clinic and the Community Renewal Team, for joining forces as part of the HEARTeam. I also want to thank the City Council for their valuable partnership in supporting the HEARTeam, as well as Patricia McIntosh, who led our implementation team, along with our police, emergency services and telecommunications, health, and fire departments."

“The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) is proud to support the City of Hartford in providing mental health support during this stressful and uncertain time. The Capitol Region Mental Health Center, one of DMHAS’ State-Operated Local Mental Health Authorities, will play an integral role in this initiative by providing clinical interventions to those experiencing behavioral health emergencies. We are hopeful this innovative approach will ensure city residents receive the most appropriate, compassionate, and professional response possible,” said Commissioner Nancy Navaretta.

“CRT is dedicated to helping people achieve their fullest potential,” said Lena Rodriguez,  President/CEO of the Community Renewal Team. “We work with people in crisis and distress to assist them with addressing challenges and developing a plan of action.  As a member of the HEARTeam, we look forward to leveraging our expertise and support services to assist in the more effective use of  community resources to help the residents of Hartford.”

"The past two years clearly exposed what we've always known: the mental health of our children is vulnerable and precious and must be treated with compassion," said Sabrina Trocchi, PhD, MPA, President and CEO of Wheeler. "Hartford's innovative approach offers kids and the people who love them the hope for a better tomorrow through a more appropriate response to mental health crises, right in their own homes and the community."

“Our brave men and women in the Hartford Police Department put their lives on the line everyday to keep our community safe, it’s time they got some help,” said City Council President Maly Rosado. “Police are often the first to be called in most situations, but many of those situations could be better served by other professionals with specialized training in social work, psychology, or other fields. The city’s HEARTeam is a civilian led effort to reduce police interactions while also providing targeted interventions to better serve the public. The thoughtfulness, planning, and collaborations required to make this initiative possible is nothing short of impressive. I would like to thank Mayor Bronin for his leadership and would especially like to recognize the work of the incredible organizations who came together to make this possible for Hartford.”

“I’m excited about the launch of the HEARTeam, which will help keep Hartford residents safe and healthy by addressing their needs in moments of crisis,” said Councilman Nick Lebron, Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “I’ve had many residents ask me for a trained response to behavioral health crises, and this program creates rapid-acting systems to connect and engage with folks who need the most help. It also helps those individuals get access to follow up. Thank you to our local partners, City staff, and the Mayor’s office for engineering this vital program.”

“I’m so proud of the work that we have done to get HEARTeam off the ground and ready to serve the people of Hartford,” said Patricia McIntosh, Director of Community Safety and Wellness. “Thank you to our Emergency Services & Telecommunications Department, our Police Department, our Fire Department, and emergency medical services for their support in integrating the HEARTeam partners into our emergency response system. The inclusion of these behavioral health and community service providers who are professionally trained to respond to individuals in need of support will strengthen our public safety system."

The City of Hartford initially began researching this initiative in October of 2020, and upon the convening of an Advisory Board of local experts which researched local and national best practices, determined that a team of three highly-specialized organizations would provide the best service. The City began its search for these partners in May of 2021. The design and implementation of this HEARTeam program was made possible by a $5 million allocation approved by the Mayor’s administration and City Council.

A virtual town hall introducing the HEARTeam will be held Tuesday, March 8th at 6 PM. Residents can attend via Zoom or Facebook. More information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/371922154410851

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