RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Several police departments and other organizations are working to redefine community safety. 

Friday, agencies from across the county joined together for a forum on alternative responses to policing at the Research Triangle Institute’s headquarters in Research Triangle Park.

“The traditional police response may not always be the right response. When someone calls 911 it may not always be just a police officer you need, or you may not want a police officer responding at all. It may be an individual having a mental health crisis,” said Jacob Cramer, RTI’s Senior Policing Researcher. 

Organizations gathered to discuss the best possible response strategies to handle nonviolent situations. 

Some agencies like the City of Durham are already working on this themselves through their Community Safety Department. They have a program called HEART which focuses on non-violent crises. 

“Public safety agencies are all experiencing staffing shortages, 20 percent staffing shortages, so we can send other types of responders that can also help free up police to be available for the types of things that we need them the most for… for violent crime and other types of activities,” said Ryan Smith, director of the department.

The forum also featured discussions on the Carolina Cohort of Cities project and the role of emergency communications in alternative responses.