The Community Outreach and Support Team (C.O.A.S.T.) is here to support you with proactive crime prevention programming and supportive services.
C.O.A.S.T. was formed at the end of 2020 with one goal in mind: To protect your safety and well-being at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Recognizing the intersection between safety and mental wellness, University of Illinois Police Chief Alice Cary designed C.O.A.S.T. to fulfill a few different purposes. C.O.A.S.T. officers provide educational programming to give our students, faculty and staff the tools they need to keep themselves and others safe. Through the Response, Evaluation and Crisis Help (REACH) initiative, C.O.A.S.T. social workers co-respond with officers in mental health emergencies, and the REACH team acts as a wraparound service to connect students with established mental health services and ensure they do not slip through the cracks. And the C.O.A.S.T. therapy K9 teams are one of many ways that our officers extend a supportive hand to our campus community.
Keep reading to learn about how you or your organization might benefit from C.O.A.S.T. services.
C.O.A.S.T. provides a number of services our campus community members can access:
Officers are available to visit your student group, organization, office or may fit into your existing programming to provide campus safety and crime prevention talks and presentations. The University of Illinois Police Department has experts in a number of areas, including alcohol safety and awareness, emergency preparedness, active threat response, or general campus safety.
Response, Evaluation and Crisis Help (REACH)
REACH is a collaborative team which brings together police officers and social workers to meet the needs of community members who are experiencing mental health crises. In mental health emergencies, police departments historically have been tasked with making sure that the community member in crisis does not hurt themselves or someone else. The University of Illinois Police Department seeks to take an innovative approach to this challenge — by including social workers on these emergency calls in a co-responder model, the REACH team can better evaluate and assess the needs of an individual in crisis and make supportive treatment and referral decisions in the moment.
REACH also helps to train our Crisis Intervention Team officers to give them tools to make better decisions on the street. REACH works with established community mental health services to make sure students, faculty and staff are getting the help they need. UIPD social workers act in a wraparound role to give more attention to these cases and connect campus community members with the appropriate resources and care options.
In 2020, the University of Illinois Police Department became one of only a handful of police departments across the country to offer therapy K9s as a community resource, and UIPD’s therapy dogs are one of many outreach initiatives that C.O.A.S.T. provides. Lollipop, Archie and Winston and their handlers are available to comfort our students, faculty and staff in times of crisis, or to help students reduce their stress and anxiety during the school year. Therapy K9s are also a great way to prompt good conversations between UIPD officers and community members, helping us to build more relationships with the people we serve.