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B.E.S.T. Training for Baltimore City Police

B.E.S.T. (Behavioral Emergency Services Team)

The Behavioral Emergency Services Team training is a certification course based on national models, which equips police officers with methods to properly interact with individuals with behavioral and/or mental health disorders safely and in a mutually beneficial manner. Officers learn to effectively de-escalate mental health crises, minimize arrests, reduce the risk of officer injuries and when to call for support from the City’s mental health crisis programs. Officers are educated about the numerous resources in Baltimore City for people with mental health service needs. This helps ensure that, after the initial intervention, citizens they encounter are linked to services and receive meaningful treatment from mental health professionals.

The B.E.S.T. training was integrated into the Police Academy in late 2010, so that all police trainees receive the training prior to graduating as patrol officers. In 2014, a Program Coordinator was hired to expand the program beyond the Police Academy: out to the Police Districts, as well as seminar and in-service training to veteran officers and commanders. In addition, the coordinator is available to offer trainings in other settings, and build relationships in the community between behavioral health providers and law enforcement. All of this is under the B.E.S.T. mission to improve outcomes for behavioral health crises where law enforcement becomes involved.

  • The program is a partnership with the Behavioral Health System-Baltimore, National Alliance On Mental Illness of Metropolitan Baltimore, Baltimore Crisis Response, Inc., and Baltimore Child and Adolescent Response System, and was established in 2004.
  • For further information, please contact Elizabeth Wexler at  (410) 868-4081 or elizabeth.wexler@bhsbaltimore.org.