While most “clinicians” are not well-trained, the mere presence of this person will heighten awareness of these serious problems and help officers how best to respond. i. e. Do NOT shoot first and ask questions later! Such policies will not only aid the public, but also will reduce the risk to police officers in some of their “strange encounters”!
Of course, eliminating the “war on drugs”, the root cause of so many problems, would help immensely. Before you “freak out” about that suggestion, I suggest you look at countries which already have done it: crime is way down, addiction is down, and police resources are much more wisely uses – catching rapists, robbers, and killers!
Excerpts from the Article:
A mental health clinician began riding with a Smyrna police officer recently, providing the department with an additional tool to determine if someone is in crisis and needs substance use or mental health treatment. The partnership between the Smyrna Police Department and Connections Community Support Programs began earlier this month. The program is the second of its kind in Delaware and comes at a time when some law enforcement agencies nationwide are trying to refer people with mental health or substance use disorders to treatment rather than arrest them.
Elizabeth Romero, director of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, said the partnership will help engage people and get them into treatment.
“We must engage more people suffering with substance use disorder and mental illness as a way to connect them with treatment,” said Romero. “This partnership between Smyrna Police and Connections is another step forward in connecting individuals in need with care that is high-quality, comprehensive, coordinated, evidence-based and person-centered. Once a person is engaged with treatment, we can pair them with peer recovery specialists who will help them navigate the treatment system and stay connected to the care they need.”
“The Smyrna Police Department is excited about this partnership as it will add another tool to our repertoire when dealing with community members in need,” said Smyrna Police spokesman Cpl. Brian Donner. “We always seek to provide the best and most appropriate type of assistance when called for help. Referring citizens to mental health and/or substance use disorder treatment is often burdensome and very time-consuming. Having a mental health clinician on board with our officers will save time, provide expert help to those in need and ultimately allow our officers to get back on the street faster to help more people. This program is a win-win for the people who need treatment, as well as the Smyrna community as a whole who expect and deserve excellent and available police resources.”
The New Castle County Police Department partnered with Connections on a similar program earlier this year. More than 100 people the team came into contact with have been assessed for behavioral health services. Connections Director of Criminal Justice and Community Partnerships Amy Kevis said she hopes the Smyrna-Connections Alliance will yield the same results.
“This partnership allows police to effectively respond to a public health emergency with more appropriate tools to help people get the help they need,” said Kevis. “We’ve known for years that we can’t arrest our way out of these issues, and this partnership creates the mechanism to get people into treatment.”
The officer and the counselor work as a team, responding to 911 calls. The counselor refers people to inpatient substance use treatment facilities or inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations. The team also follows up on police reports taken on a shift when the team wasn’t available in case a person might need behavioral health services.
The team is also available to assist nearby police departments should the need arise.
The Smyrna-Connections partnership is paid for by a federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation grant made available by the Delaware Center for Health Innovation’s Healthy Neighborhood Initiative. The NCCPD-Connections partnership is paid for with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.
Connections provides a comprehensive array of behavioral health services at more than 100 locations throughout Delaware and in parts of Maryland. The agency has been operating for more than 30 years and provides services to more than 42,000 people each year.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR – We all should salute Smyrna P D! – 12/9/18 PUBLISHED 12/19/18
A recent article informed us that a mental health clinician began riding with a Smyrna police officer recently, providing the department with an additional tool to determine if someone is in crisis and needs substance abuse or mental health treatment. The partnership between the Smyrna Police Department and Connections Community Support Programs began earlier this month.
Lord knows that I criticize the justice system and law enforcement when they need it, but here we all should salute Smyrna P D. Good and wise decision! As I suggested when I saw the New Castle police do this: all departments in the nation should follow their lead! Philly, Detroit, Milford, DE … are you listening? Such policies will not only aid the public, but also will reduce the risk to police officers in some of their “strange encounters”!
While many “clinicians” are not well-trained, the mere presence of this person will heighten awareness of these serious problems and help officers how best to respond. i. e. Do NOT shoot first and ask questions later!
Of course, eliminating the “war on drugs”, the root cause of so many problems, would help immensely. Before you “freak out” about that suggestion, I suggest you look at countries which already have done it: crime is way down, addiction is down, and police resources are much more wisely used – catching rapists, robbers, and killers!
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal Justice, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
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