Acting Attorney Andrew J. Bruck and New Jersey State Police Colonel Patrick J. Callahan recently announced the beginning of a pilot program that pairs a New Jersey State Police law enforcement Trooper with a certified mental health screener to respond together to 9-1-1 calls for behavioral health crises. The initiative, known as ARRIVE Together (“Alternative Responses to Reduce Instances of Violence & Escalation”), will be operated out of State Police’s Cumberland County stations based in Bridgeton and Port Norris.
Across New Jersey, two out of every three uses of force by law enforcement involve a civilian identified as either suffering from mental illness or who is under the influence. Over half of all fatal police encounters occur in similar circumstances. The ARRIVE Together Initiative is a recognition that these numbers are unacceptable, and a step towards improving those outcomes.
Certified mental health screeners are state-funded roles that operate in all New Jersey counties. The Cumberland County Guidance Center runs the crisis intervention and psychiatric screening program that is partnering with State Police in the ARRIVE Together Initiative. A Guidance Center screener will travel with a State Police Trooper in the Trooper’s vehicle to respond to 9-1-1 calls for service relating to mental, emotional, or behavioral crises during the pilot shifts that originate in State Police’s Cumberland County areas of responsibility. Such calls for service will include mental health incidents, confused or disoriented persons, welfare checks, and suicide watch.
The Rutgers School of Public Health will perform an assessment, led by Dean Perry N. Halkitis of the pilot program in order to identify strengths and weaknesses. In the course of the assessment, Rutgers will interview both participating troopers and screeners after their shifts responding to behavioral health emergencies, as well as review data relating to the qualifying calls for service. After gathering and reviewing the data, Rutgers will provide an objective and independent evaluation of the pilot that will help determine subsequent phases of the ARRIVE Together Initiative.
“I thank Acting Attorney General Bruck for bringing the ARRIVE Together program to Cumberland County,” said Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae. “A police officer having the assistance of a mental health professional when called to a crisis promotes safety during the encounter and is a step towards long term well-being for the person in crisis. Cumberland County stands ready to support this important initiative which truly reimagines what public safety will look like in the 21st century.”
“The Rutgers School of Public Health is a leading and modern school that is directed by the tenets of health equity and social justice,” said Perry N. Halkitis, Dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health. “Working with the state, an evaluation team of faculty and students will assist the AG and state police to gather and interpret robust data to inform their decision making about this innovative program. This initiative builds on the pillars that define our school—effective research, sincere community engagement, and active and modern learning.”
“We are excited to be a part of the ARRIVE Together Pilot Program and look forward to this interactive partnership with our dedicated New Jersey State Troopers in the effort to improve outcomes for community members experiencing psychiatric distress,” said Elizabeth Meenan, executive director of the Cumberland County Guidance Center.
David Moore, executive director of Behavioral Health for Inspira said, “Our community is best served when behavioral health, social services and law enforcement work collaboratively to serve our communities. I applaud the AG’s Office’s pilot of “ARRIVE” as a step to understand how to operationalize cooperation in a manner that improves services, reduce violence and expedites response time. My hope is this pilot quickly leads to enhance real time 24/7 support to law enforcement and citizens in crisis that need professional support. A real step in the right direction!”
For more information on the Attorney General’s Office’s initiatives to improve outcomes for individuals suffering from mental illness, intellectual disabilities and disorders, substance abuse, and other behavioral health concerns, visit njoag.gov/behavioralhealth.