Chief Richard Burrows and Town Manager John Mangiaratti are pleased to announce that the Acton Police Department has received a multi-year grant to improve the way the Department serves those with mental health or substance misuse challenges.
The grant, funded by the state Department of Mental Health, will help Acton Police establish its own Jail/Arrest Diversion Program. The grant will provide $84,500 in the first year.
Funding will be used to hire a Clinical Staff Responder, who will be an Acton Police Department employee. The Police Department has shared clinician services with eight other departments for the past five years.
“Participating in a regional, shared Diversion Program showed the Town the need and value of pursuing an independent, full-time model,” Chief Burrows said. “The community has identified the need for clinical expertise within public safety, and recognized that our Department plays a vital role in delivering behavioral health support.”
The clinician will:
- Partner with police officers to provide resources, support and assistance to those struggling with substance misuse and mental health challenges;
- Respond when police are called to incidents involving substance misuse and/or mental health;
- Follow up after those incidents to connect those individuals with resources and programming;
- Train officers for improved and more consistent responses on mental health calls;
- Serve as the Department’s conduit to organizations that provide community-based substance misuse and mental health services;
- Work with local and state organizations, including Family Services, Council on Aging, Veterans Agent, Community Resources Coordinator, Acton Nursing Services, Domestic Violence Services Network, state Department of Mental Health, and others.
- Use existing links with community resources for different cultural groups in the Town, ensuring the program is culturally competent, accessible, and equitable to all.
This effort further aligns the Acton Police Department with the One Mind Campaign, supported by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Through the campaign, departments pledge to implement best practices to improve mental health programming, training, and procedures. The Acton Police Department became certified by the One Mind Campaign in 2019.
“Mental health and substance misuse calls are among the most challenging calls to which our officers respond,” Chief Burrows said. “This grant will help us better respond to these calls, and improve how we can connect people to the resources they need.”
Those interested in applying for the position of Clinical Staff Responder may apply here.