Police Department

Behavioral Health Unit

Substance use and mental health conditions often go hand in hand and in order to better serve our community, the decision was made to combine the Mental Health Unit (CORE) and the Substance Use Response Team (SURT) under one umbrella, called the Behavioral Health Unit.

To read more about the Behavioral Health Unit, click here.

Mental Health Unit (CORE)

The CORE Unit is the new name for the Mental Health Unit. CORE uses a co-responder model and it began as a way to address the numerous responses to mental health calls in Duluth. At the time, officers were out of tools to help people in crisis. The ER was overloaded and the jail certainly wasn’t the solution. So an officer and a homeless advocate teamed up to work together to get individuals to the right resources. After several years of continued success and connecting hundreds of individuals to resources, the program expanded to a Unit Commander, two officers, two embedded social workers, and an embedded registered nurse. Since March 2017, 790 people have been referred to CORE and in 2021, 485 people have been referred.

If you'd like to contact members of the CORE Unit, call:


To read more about CORE, click here.

Substance Use Response Team (SURT)

The Substance Use Response Team (SURT) is a deflection program housed within the Duluth Police Department. SURT was created in 2018 in response to historic rises in opioid-related overdoses to provide post-overdose outreach. Deflection programs, such as SURT, are designed to divert individuals with substance use disorders away from the criminal justice system and into services that are supportive of their recovery. Although cities and counties nationwide have implemented similar deflection programs, approximately 90% of those programs involve law enforcement in post-overdose outreach. Conversely, SURT is an entirely peer recovery-led and run outreach program that does not include police in follow-up attempts but is instead embedded within a law enforcement agency. Thus, SURT reflects a genuine public health and public safety collaboration that has successfully reimaged what system-level justice reform is capable of.

Currently, SURT employs four Peer Recovery Specialists and, through community partnerships, also includes an embedded Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC). SURT provides outreach to opioid overdose survivors, performs street outreach, accepts family and friend referrals, offers in-reach into local jails, and receives referrals from partner agencies.

If you'd like to contact members of the Substance Response Team, call:


To read more about the Substance Use Response Team, click here.