Public Safety and Emergency ResponseWebinarPublication Date: Jun 30, 2021

An overview of the Crisis Intervention Team model was presented by the Brookline Police Department’s CIT: social worker Annabel Lane, Lt. Jennifer Paster and Sgt. Chris Malinn.

The team described the CIT model as a community policing approach to mental health crises based on partnerships between police and local service providers. The goals of the model are to prevent unnecessary arrest and incarceration of individuals with mental health conditions, connect individuals in crisis with services and support, and improve safety for community members and officers during crisis interactions.

The team also discussed their work coordinating the Norfolk County CIT Training and Technical Assistance Center to train law enforcement agencies in Norfolk County and the Boston area. They provided information about other CIT training and technical assistance centers around the Commonwealth, and discussed funding opportunities through the Department of Mental Health Jail Diversion Programs.

A second panel discussed the shared services approach to mental health policing that has been established by Deerfield, Greenfield and Montague, along with Western Massachusetts-based behavioral health provider Clinical & Support Options. Panelists included Deerfield Police Chief John Paciorek Jr. and Sgt. Jennifer Bartak, Greenfield Deputy Police Chief Bill Gordon, and social worker Jen LaRoche, the vice president of acute and day programs at Clinical & Support Options.

LaRoche discussed the history of her organization’s work as the statewide emergency services program for Franklin and Hampshire counties, and how the shared services partnership was developed. She also discussed the role that emergency service providers can play in establishing local mental health policing initiatives.

Chief Paciorek and Sgt. Bartak discussed the role of the Clinical & Support Options clinician when responding to mental health calls with officers and the benefits to having a clinician in the field during these kinds of calls. They also discussed some of the unique challenges that smaller communities face in establishing mental health policing initiatives and the benefits of a shared services model to help overcome some of these challenges.

Deputy Chief Gordon discussed how the departments have been able to use third-party billing to insurance companies through Clinical & Support Options to fund some of their program. He also provided an overview of some of the state grant funding that is available for mental health policing through the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Public Health, including the option to apply for a co-response grant through DMH’s Jail Diversion Programs for shared services between communities.