Keeping our responders and other people on the scene safe is a top priority of DCSD and we have taken time and care to plan our pilots to mitigate safety risks. Our safety plans include the following:
- We have selected eligible calls types where arrests, assaults, and violence are incredibly rare occurrences – less than 1% of 1%.
- We have excluded call types that would otherwise be eligible if a weapon is present or if there is physical violence toward others.
- Our responders are fully visible to 9-1-1. We will know where our responders are and will be able to communicate with them.
- Our responders will have radios and will be able to call for police backup, if necessary.
- Our responders will receive one month of intensive training prior to responding to calls, including training in situational awareness and de-escalation.
Durham is not the first to dispatch unarmed responders to non-violent calls for service. For instance, Denver, CO has been doing so since 2020 and has responded to over 3,500 calls (common calls include trespass and welfare check) and have yet to call police for back up a single time. San Francisco, CA and Eugene, OR both dispatch unarmed responders who radio for backup on average 2% of the time – with none resulting in arrests or violence.