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A Proposal for an Independent Crisis Unit in Raleigh:
Making ACORNS Effective and Impactful to the Raleigh Community

For roughly two years, the City of Raleigh’s Addressing Crises through Outreach, Referrals, Networking, and Service (ACORNS) unit has functioned as an extension of the police department. The data from this response has shown that this effort has been insufficient to meet the needs of our communities. In most cities that have a successful crisis response unit, the unit functions as an independent entity of the police department. We believe this independence is the key ingredient missing from making ACORNS an effective unit.

What follows is the proposal Refund Raleigh has made to Raleigh city council to establish a mental health crisis response unit that is independent from the Raleigh Police Department. We examine the limitations and shortcomings of the ACORNS program and unearth what it would take for ACORNS to be useful and reach its highest potential. As part of our conclusions, we offer a short review of the HEART program in Durham and the STAR program in Denver. Through our review of these crisis response initiatives, we include an assessment of what makes them successful and offer recommendations for Raleigh.

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