The City of Indianapolis and Indiana University Center for Health and Justice Research today announced a grant award of nearly $500,000 from Arnold Ventures. The grant will fund a comprehensive analysis of the city's Mobile Crisis Assistance Teams and Behavioral Health Unit.

MCAT-BHU acts as a co-response model, assigning a police officer and mental health professional to improve outcomes for individuals in crisis and prevent them from entering the criminal justice system.

This evaluation will the most in-depth study of the co-response model known.

“Three years ago, we embarked on a process to bring data-driven criminal justice reform to Indianapolis, and with it, better outcomes for residents in crisis and a reduced burden on taxpayers. From this process emerged the MCAT-BHU program,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett in a news release. “The investment from Arnold Ventures will pay dividends for our community, allowing for a robust evaluation that will help inform our continued efforts to improve the lives of residents and the safety of our city.”

A CHJR research team led by Drs. Brad Ray and Eric Grommon will conduct a year-long control trial in a new IMPD district with new MCAT-BHU team members. Using about 1,440 calls for service, the trial will examine the MCAT-BHU program’s impact on emergency medical services utilization, arrest rates, treatment engagement, response time, and hospitalization.

 The research team will also collect follow-up data one year after the initial police-resident interaction for a cost-benefit analysis that will examine the costs of delivering MCAT-BHU, costs of engagement with the criminal justice system, and costs of treatment delivery.

This system strives to break the cycle of incarceration of people who need help and instead work with them to provide resources and guidance to build on.