NJ State Police expanding a new mental health crisis program
A program that partners New Jersey State Police troopers with mental health experts in a low-key, non-confrontational manner is expanding.
The New Jersey State Police is receiving a competitive grant award of $549,750 from the federal government to increase the ARRIVE Together mental health crisis response initiative in parts of Cumberland County and other areas around the state.
According to Colonel Pat Callahan, the Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, ARRIVE is an acronym for Alternative Responses to Reduce Instances of Violence and Escalation.
A unique team
He said in the program a trooper works together with a mental health screener “and based upon what kind of calls come into dispatch for somebody in a behavioral or mental health crisis, the trooper along with the mental health screener are dispatched to that location.”
He pointed out ARRIVE Together has been incredibly successful in diverting people away from the criminal justice system and more towards mental health programs to get them the help they need.
Callahan said in the past half of calls received involving someone in a mental health crisis resulted in law enforcement having to use force but “out of nearly 150 of these contacts since we started this, there have been zero uses of force, that stat in and of itself is really a phenomenal one.”
He said when a trooper and the mental health screener are dispatched, the trooper is in plain clothes driving an unmarked car.
“What we’re seeing is just that temperature coming down almost immediately, and establishing that rapport, that it’s not, people know that you’re not going to leave your living room in handcuffs.”
What's the message
He said the message that’s conveyed is – we’re going to try and get you the help that you need.
Callahan said he remembers when he was a young trooper “there were certain addresses and names, you heard that address come and you’re like, oh, here we go again, and what we’re seeing is the decrease in calls for service for those same individuals.”
He said the result is more time for troopers to follow up on other law enforcement duties and calls, while getting people the mental health help and support they need more rapidly.
He pointed out the program also calls for the troopers and mental health screeners to follow up a few weeks after an incident with and visit the individual to see how they’re doing.
Fulfilling their mission
Callahan added the program has helped the community, and the State Police fulfill its mission, to “treat people with compassion and according to the Constitution, this ARRIVE Together program has been one of our greatest successes.”
The grant, offered through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, is titled “Connect and Protect: Law Enforcement Behavioral Health Response Program.” The purpose of the grant program is to support law enforcement-behavioral health cross-system collaboration to improve public health and safety responses and outcomes for individuals with mental health disorders and co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.
A portion of the Connect and Protect grant will fund an expansion of the State Police’s ARRIVE Together program in Cumberland County. The State Police will award the rest of the funds as competitive subgrants, to other law enforcement agencies seeking to establish their own ARRIVE Together program working with mental health providers.
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com