Easthampton and Hadley Police Department get help from mental health clinician
Police officers responding to mental health and addiction calls in Easthampton and Hadley can now bring in a mental health clinician to help them defuse certain situations.
Through a partnership with regional nonprofit Clinical & Support Options, law enforcement is piloting a co-response program that police chiefs say is already paying dividends.
In Hadley, Police Chief Michael Mason said split-response clinician Emma Reilly was able to help officers sent on a call to a nearby community on day one.
“The officers in each department are extremely happy with the way this program has worked so far and we are all happy to have their help,” Mason said.
Easthampton Police Chief Robert J. Alberti said the Joint Response Program offers an alternative to traditional response models, with accountability to the community, family members and those in need of services. mental health.
“Our joint response fosters education, sensitivity, understanding and the continued building of community partnerships here in Easthampton,” said Alberti.
The program is subject to a memorandum of understanding between the police services and the CSO. Reilly, a licensed master’s-level clinical social worker, started in mid-September in a 40-hour-per-week position. Between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily, Reilly can be sent to each community, and a 24-hour backup is also available.
There is no cost to Easthampton or Hadley, with the departments applying jointly to the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health for a grant that would further fund the program as a “prison hijack” effort.
Co-response and de-escalation strategies have been a long-standing mission of CSO, said Karin Jeffers, CSO President and CEO, adding that the agency works closely with police across the region.
“Having formal agreements and working relationships in place only reinforces our mutual value and our progression towards models of community policing,” said Jeffers.
A similar program launched in April serves Greenfield, Montague and Deerfield.
Mason said his department aims to build on success.
“Many of our two agencies are trained and certified in crisis intervention, but an integrated clinician, like Emma, adds another layer of support and confidence that we believe our communities want and need,” said Mason said.
School departments will also benefit from the program, said Jennifer LaRoche, CSO’s vice president of acute and day programs.
“We have already heard positive comments from the administration of school departments,” LaRoche reports. “Sending a clinician co-responder alongside an agent improves the perception of some calls. ”
CSO, which operates licensed behavioral health clinics throughout the region, oversees Hampshire County and Franklin County emergency services programs.
In addition to working on the calls that the Co-Response Clinician is sent to, Reilly will also manage referrals and provide follow-up care as needed.
Scott Merzbach can be reached at [email protected]