A sheriff's deputy shows an iPad screen to a woman sitting at a table in a demonstration of South Dakota's Virtual

Eight out of 10 people who came into contact with law enforcement while experiencing a mental health crisis were diverted from involuntary hospitalization under South Dakota’s Virtual Crisis Care pilot program, according to an analysis by CJI.

From January 2020 to June 2021, 18 sheriff’s departments and probation in one judicial circuit in South Dakota piloted an innovative virtual mobile crisis response program to help law enforcement respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis. In the 18-month pilot period, 80% people with whom Virtual Crisis Care was used were diverted from involuntary hospitalization. This includes people who were able to remain at home and a small percentage of people who voluntarily admitted themselves.

CJI helped design and implement the pilot program, with support from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and working with stakeholders in South Dakota. Based on the early success of South Dakota’s pilot program, CJI partnered with Helmsley and stakeholders to replicate the program in Nevada, with the pilot beginning in 11 law enforcement agencies in June.