About CROA

The Co-Responder Outreach Alliance (CROA) is a statewide organization of field experts consisting of first responders, behavioral health professionals, and project managers working in co-response programs.

The Co-Responders Outreach Alliance (CROA) is an organization consisting of first responders, behavioral health professionals, and project managers working in the co-response field. The organization was created in 2018 and represents police and fire agencies from across Washington State. CROA has a three part mission: (1) to enhance the understanding of co-response programs and co-response best practices in Washington State (2) to promote the use of co-response to assist individuals with behavioral health issues (3) to advocate for laws and policies that support co-response where appropriate—and other programs and approaches when not. CROA is nonpartisan and non ideological. Members support practical, real world approaches and opportunities to collaborate.

More About Co-response

“Co-response” means different things in different jurisdictions. At its core, though, is a belief that partnering first responders with behavioral health professionals is an effective way to respond to behavioral health crises–and other situations involving unmet behavioral health needs. The first co-response teams were established in the 1970’s and 1980’s, were designed to respond to crisis calls, and paired police officers with mental health clinicians. Over the past 30 years, co-response has evolved to include fire and EMS-based programs, hybrid teams of police and fire/EMS, and many kinds of behavioral health professionals (including substance use professionals, case managers, peers). Co-response teams still respond to crisis, but perform other functions like follow up services, case management, outreach to homeless populations, transportation, and resource navigation.

While the forms of co-response have changed, the goals of the approach are consistent. First responders are often the only field based responders for individuals struggling with mental illness, mental health issues, substance use, and other behavioral health issues. Co-response aims to de-escalate these situations, improve the quality of interactions, promote safety, and facilitate access to care. An emerging body of evidence suggests that these programs reduce arrests, incarceration, and emergency room visits—and effectively connect people to needed care. Further, co-response teams often enhance collective impact by promoting care coordination among agencies and between health care and criminal justice systems.

Co-responder programs have a 50 year history, but many programs were launched in the last 5-10 years. There is a high demand, nationally and internationally, for opportunities to exchange ideas, share best practices, and prepare for new demands. CROA is proud to be a resource for jurisdictions exploring co-response, and agencies looking to improve their programs.

Board Members

  • Board President – Kim Hendrickson, Director of City of Poulsbo’s Housing Health and Human Services Department, and project assistant of the Poulsbo Fire CARES and Central Kitsap Fire CARES
  • Board Vice President – Zee Andrignis, Mental Health Professional Supervisor for the Seattle Police Department Crisis Response Team
  • Board Secretary – Brook Buettner, Executive Director, Regional Crisis Response (RCR) Agency, North King County
  • Board Treasurer – Mike Jackson, Division Chief, Clark County Fire and Rescue
  • Carrie Christiansen​, Spokane Police Department
  • Membership Lead – Ashley Dawson, Program Manager for LEAD – Snohomish County
  • Meetings Lead – Kelli Roark, City of Everett
  • Malora Christensen, Response Systems Manager, Whatcom County Health Department
  • Jon Ehrenfeld, Program Manager, Seattle Fire Department Mobile Integrated Health
  • Natasha Grossman, Program Manager for Bellevue Fire C.A.R.E.S.
  • Chief Ron Harding, Poulsbo Police Department
  • Jamie Formisano, Deputy Director of Human Services, Eastside Fire & Rescue

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