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NSPD Pathfinders: An analysis, development, and implementation program to help Law Enforcement better handle Mental Illness and Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Abuse.

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $149,996)

“Just as we equip our law enforcement with tools and knowledge to prevent and respond to crime, we must also give them the means to better serve mental health crises.”

-Bob Scolnik, Board Chairman, Muskegon County Board of Commissioners

The Norton Shores Police Department seeks funding to hire a “Mental Health Officer” to develop and implement a Crisis Intervention training program in order to improve Police responses to Mental Illness and Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Abuse crisis, with an end goal of certifying 50% of Muskegon County’s law enforcement Officers in CIT. Muskegon County is located in West Michigan, along the shores of Lake Michigan. There are nearly 350 sworn law enforcement Officers operating in the county, spread through several different jurisdictions. By creating a unified approach and standard, law enforcement will be better suited to serve our County’s approximately 173,000 residents.

This initiative is being led by the Norton Shores Police Department (NSPD) and managed by Sgt. Daniel Hibler of the Problem Oriented Intelligence-Led Neighborhood Team (POINT). NSPD has a successful history of Federal grant management. This currently includes two funded positions through the STOP Violence Against Women Act. This program is intended to be a collaborative effort, partnered up with the neighboring law enforcement jurisdictions and Muskegon County’s mental health services provider, HealthWest.

Current statistics show that Muskegon County Law Enforcement makes approximately 1,600 referrals to HealthWest per year (2021). These referrals are an identification of known or suspected mental health needs for the subjects police encounter. However, Kessler 6 screenings at Muskegon County Jail reveal that 26% of inmates answered yes to at least one risk factor for Mental Illness (2018). This indicates a knowledge gap for Officers to properly identify and dispose of subjects with MI and CMISA needs.

This program intends to strengthen and enhance Muskegon County Law Enforcement’s capacity in dealing with MI and CMISA incidents. This Mental Health Officer will conduct a thorough problem analysis, engage local stakeholders, research best practices, and develop a comprehensive and anticipatory training plan during their first year in action. After that, they will provide training throughout Muskegon County to certify Officers and equip them with the tools needed during a mental health crisis. This will result in improved community trust and the safety of both Officers and the patients they endeavor to help.

Date Created: December 7, 2021