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Deflection First, Arrest Rare

JSP Staff

Police-led deflection programs allow police officers to replace an arrest with connections to community-based crisis centers or treatment providers for individuals with behavioral health concerns (mental health and substance use). When police officers deflect individuals to these local providers, it removes the court system entirely, eliminates the collateral consequences of the criminal legal system involvement, and prioritizes getting someone access to services.

This resource discusses “deflection first, arrest rare” as a principle for police practice, asking officers to rely heavily on deflection as a primary response rather than offering it as often or even less than arrest. In this way, arrest is the exception, not the rule.