The Arlington Police Department (APD) serves a densely populated suburban community, that borders the city of Cambridge and is less than seven miles to the city of Boston.. There are 45 group homes within Arlington’s 5 square miles, indicating a disproportionate number of people who have complex needs. To support this population, APD has formed strategic collaborations with an array of community stakeholders to design and implement specialized responses to people who have behavioral health needs who come in contact with law enforcement.
In 2010, in response to rising mental health-related calls for service, extended wait times for clinical responses, and a lack of options in the community for people in crisis, APD developed a formalized partnership with The Edinburg Center, a non-profit community mental health agency to create the Arlington Jail Diversion Program (JDP). APD has since implemented a series of initiatives to help effectively respond to people who have behavioral health needs in the community.
- Serves a suburban jurisdiction in close proximity to two urban centers
- Features a co-response program and targeted initiatives, spearheaded by a mental health clinician embedded in the police department, which includes the Jail Diversion Program, Hoarding Response Team, Elder Abuse Prevention Task Force, and Arlington Opiate Outreach Initiative
- Uses strong community partnerships to facilitate cross-sector case management
- Provides multi-modality training, which includes instruction in:
- Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) for all officers
- Trauma-informed care
- Youth development/brain development
- Context-specific crisis management and intervention techniques
- Signs and symptoms of mental illness
- Signs and symptoms of overdose
- Narcan (deployment and distribution training)
- Common psychiatric medications and usage
- Suicide risk and prevention
- Relevant laws and statutes
- Collects and analyses data comprehensively in a system that allows for specialized clinician access
Mental Health Learning Sites
Jurisdictions around the country are exploring strategies to improve the outcomes of encounters between law enforcement and people who have mental illnesses. As a growing number of communities engage in the development or enhancement of their specialized policing responses (SPRs) (including co-response, CIT, and other models) or their overall police-mental health collaboration (PMHC), many struggle with the program design process, and are unsure how to tailor models from other jurisdictions to their own distinct problems and circumstances.
In an effort to expand the knowledge base for law enforcement agencies interested in starting or enhancing a PMHC, the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, with assistance from a team of national experts and the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), selected ten police departments to act as national law enforcement/mental health learning sites. Located across the country, these learning sites represent a diverse cross-section of perspectives and program examples, and are dedicated to helping other jurisdictions improve their responses to people who have mental illnesses. Selected were: Arlington (MA) Police Department, Gallia, Jackson, Meigs Counties (OH) Sheriffs’ Offices, Houston (TX) Police Department, Los Angeles (CA) Police Department, Madison County (TN) Sheriff’s Office, Madison (WI) Police Department, Portland (ME) Police Department, Salt Lake City (UT) Police Department, Tucson (AZ) Police Department, and University of Florida Police Department.
Click on a site below for details.
- Arlington (MA) PD
- Gallia, Jackson, Meigs Counties (OH) Sheriffs’ Offices
- Houston (TX) PD
- Los Angeles (CA) PD
- Madison County (TN) Sheriff’s Office
- Madison (WI) PD
- Portland (ME) PD
- Salt Lake City (UT) PD
- Tucson (AZ) PD
- University of Florida PD
The Law Enforcement/Mental Health learning sites collectively reflect the range of strategies a law enforcement agency might consider when developing a collaborative initiative to address the needs of individuals who have mental illnesses in their community. As centers of peer-to-peer learning and support, learning site personnel are committed to providing guidance to agencies in other jurisdictions that are interested in creating or expanding their own specialized policing responses including co-responder, CIT, and other models as part of their collaborations with community behavioral health agencies.
“The learning site project creates a forum for policing officials to learn from one another how to adapt responses to people with mental illnesses, ensuring officers are better able to connect them to needed services, while increasing public safety, reducing arrests, and saving vital agency resources.”
-Chief, Portland Police Department, Michael Sauschuck
Training our Department Has Received
Recent Departments Trained at APD
- West St. Paul, Minnesota Police Department
- Gresham, Oregon Police Department
- Green Bay, Wisconsin Police Department
- Gallatin, Tennessee Police Department