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N.J. announces $12M for pilot program centered around police mental health response

The funding will boost Community-Led Crisis Response Teams, enhancing coordination between law enforcement and mental health professionals during mental health crises

New Jersey State House

The New Jersey State House in Trenton, N.J., Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Matt Rourke/AP

By Deion Johnson

TRENTON, N.J. — The Community Crisis Response Team Pilot Program will receive $12 million in funding following the approval of a senate bill in January that focuses on police response to mental health emergency calls, officials announced Monday.

The bill, known as the Seabrooks-Washington Community-Led Crisis Response Act, is named after both Najee Seabrooks and Andrew Washington, who were killed during encounters with police while experiencing a mental health episode, according to a news release.

Gov. Phil Murphy and the state Office of the Attorney General said six counties, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex and Passaic, are eligible for funding from the grant, capped at $2 million per application.

“Community Crisis Response Teams have the potential to play an integral role in connecting those suffering from mental health crises with the services they need,” Murphy said in the news release. “These teams, in partnership with programs like ARRIVE Together and 9-8-8 mobile response, will continue strengthening the continuum of response for individuals in mental distress.

“This funding will see that Community-Led Crisis Response Teams are able to continue to provide their services while safely and efficiently expanding in communities throughout our state.”

A Community Crisis Response Team is designed to add to the spectrum of response options available in New Jersey through the support of the different public offices, according to the news release.

With the help of trained community partners, the teams will be able to de-escalate situations or connect individuals to needed resources, it was stated in the release. ARRIVE Together initiative, Community-Based Violence Intervention and the Mobile Crisis Outreach Response Team program are different programs already being utilized across the state that are adding to the overall effort to ensure the most effective response during mental health crises.

Hear directly from those at the helm of these critical operations, as they share their challenges, successes and vision for the future of crisis intervention

“Thanks to the support of Governor Murphy and the Legislature, our department has made great strides in improving and expanding the state’s public safety infrastructure and in doing so has saved lives,” Attorney General Matt Platkin said in the news release. “With today’s announcement of $12 million in funding for the Community Crisis Response Teams, we are bolstering community-led, trauma-informed services and empowering individuals at the ground level.

“This follows our existing initiatives like the ARRIVE Together and Community-Based Violence Intervention programs, which underscore the potency of data-driven, community-informed strategies to foster resiliency in underserved populations.”

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