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New Jersey to Begin Sending Mental Health Professionals on 911 Calls

New Jersey will begin a pilot program that pairs New Jersey law enforcement officers with certified mental health professionals to jointly respond to behavioral health crises calls, in an initiative called ARRIVE Together (Alternative Responses to Reduce Instances of Violence & Escalation).

Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck and New Jersey State Police Colonel Patrick J. Callahan announced the beginning of the pilot program today, with the program first being operated out of State Police’s Cumberland County stations based in Bridgeton and Port Norris.

The program is being started due to statistics showing that, across New Jersey, two out of every three uses of force by law enforcement involve a civilian identified as either suffering from mental illness or who is under the influence. Over half of all fatal police encounters occur in similar circumstances. The ARRIVE Together Initiative is in recognition of these numbers, and an attempt to improve outcomes in these situations.

Certified mental health screeners are state-funded roles that operate in all New Jersey counties. The Cumberland County Guidance Center runs the crisis intervention and psychiatric screening program that is partnering with State Police in the ARRIVE Together Initiative. A Guidance Center screener will travel with a State Police Trooper in the Trooper’s vehicle to respond to 911 calls for service relating to mental, emotional, or behavioral crises during the pilot shifts that originate in State Police’s Cumberland County areas of responsibility. Such calls for service will include mental health incidents, confused or disoriented persons, welfare checks, and suicide watch.

The Rutgers School of Public Health will perform an assessment of the pilot program to identify its strengths and weaknesses. In the course of the assessment, Rutgers will interview both participating troopers and screeners after their shifts responding to behavioral health emergencies, as well as review data relating to the qualifying calls for service. After gathering and reviewing the data, Rutgers will provide an objective and independent evaluation of the pilot that will help determine subsequent phases of the ARRIVE Together Initiative.

“In modern times, we ask law enforcement officers to undertake roles they never expected when choosing to serve—marriage counselor, addiction specialist, social worker. And increasingly, officers are asked to act like doctors and psychiatrists, determining what drug a person may have taken, or what mental health condition they may be experiencing,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “We need to respond to our community members in crisis with clinicians and compassion, and we need to divert individuals with mental illness away from the criminal justice system. Today’s announcement is yet another step in our effort to implement Governor Murphy’s vision for public safety in New Jersey.”

“What makes this program unique is that ARRIVE Together immediately connects a mental health professional to the person in crisis from the onset of the call for service,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “With this partnership, our strategies for response and treatment are significantly augmented, and gives us more options to assist the individual in need, based on the assessment of the mental health professional. The specialist on scene can recommend an array of resources as the situation unfolds, which is an amazing advantage to de-escalate and resolve the problem. The New Jersey State Police is committed to developing innovative thinking and strategies to better serve the communities we have sworn to protect.”

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There are 1 Comments to "New Jersey to Begin Sending Mental Health Professionals on 911 Calls"

  • Outsider looking in. says:

    ?. Are mental health counselors ever counselled by other mental health counselor’s before issuing resolutions to people’s problems? Just wondering.