Research Reports

Waco Connect Project: Law Enforcement Evaluation Report

Waco Connect Project: Law Enforcement Evaluation Report

Growing evidence suggests the importance of economic stability, physical environment, education, food, and social context in determining one’s health before the health system intervenes, an idea referred to as the social determinants of health (SDOH). 

The Waco Connect (WC) project, part of a national series of Collaborative Approach to Public Good Investment (CAPGI) projects, is a social care navigation program initially coordinated during the study period by Prosper Waco in Waco, Texas. WC aims to connect individuals with potential medical and social care needs who had police contact in Waco, Texas to a network of medical and nonmedical resources. In partnership with the Waco Police Department (WPD), a social resource coordinator (SRC) was embedded in the WPD. Our team was contracted to serve as the local evaluator for WC. The purpose of this evaluation is to assess whether the WC project – as an intervention to invest in SDOH – reduced emergency detention orders and police call-outs. In this report, we describe WC as implemented based on internal reports and conversations with key personnel. 

Using data on calls provided by WPD, we used interrupted time series and difference-in-differences methods to estimate the impact of the WC intervention. We found no overall declines in EDOs or call-outs in 2022. We found that less police time was needed in response to behavioral health calls following the implementation of new procedures designed in collaboration with the SRC. 

The reduction in officer time was immediately obvious to WPD and they implemented these procedures for all shifts; they later hired the SRC directly. Working with the SRC was successful from the WPD perspective. We were not able to evaluate impacts on individuals detained or involved in the calls, although time to treatment would have decreased for them, and they were more likely to receive medical screenings and psychological evaluations following implementation of the new procedures.