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The Onondaga County Justice and Mental Health Collaboration

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $183,000)

Onondaga County, as lead applicant, requests funding to develop the Onondaga County Justice and Mental Health Collaboration (“Collaboration”) that will implement a mental health diversion system including a Mental Health Outreach Team to respond to Persons in Crisis rather than using law enforcement for non-emergency behavioral health calls to 911. This Collaboration includes the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, the Syracuse Police Department, the Onondaga County 911 Center, and two mobile crisis response partners: Liberty Resources and St. Joseph’s Hospital, as well as a to-be-contracted street outreach organization. Onondaga County is a midsized metropolitan area of 460,000 residents located in Upstate New York. 77% of county residents are white non-hispanic, yet the city of Syracuse is increasingly diverse: 29% of residents are African-American/Black, 9% are Hispanic, and the community has a growing population of immigrants /refugees, with 18% of city residents speaking a language other than English at home.

The Collaboration will hire a Director of Crisis Intervention and Outreach Services to coordinate a community-wide response outside of the conventional criminal justice case processing and incarceration, by identifying seriously mentally ill individuals with multiple police contacts, and engaging and connecting these individuals to appropriate community-based treatment and support services outside of the criminal justice system. The target population for the Collaboration is adults ages 18 and up who are considered “preliminarily qualified offenders” at the pre- and post-booking stages of engagement with the criminal justice system, and we estimate serving 130 residents per year.

The Collaboration will create a Mental Health Advisory Committee to identify and divert Persons in Crisis who have had multiple law enforcement contacts into a system of care that provides intervention and follow-up care, mobile response, peer recovery specialists, and more. The Collaboration will also oversee continued Crisis Intervention Team training for county law enforcement to reach a goal of 20% of patrol officers having CIT training, and will hire a consultant to update our 2012 Sequential Intercept Map.

The Collaboration is seeking program-specific priority consideration in the following area: 1) promote effective strategies by law enforcement to identify and reduce the risk of harm to individuals with mental health issues and to public safety. It is also seeking OJP Priority consideration that the individuals benefiting from this initiative reside in high-poverty areas in Onondaga County, NY. Onondaga County has not received JMHC funds in the past.

Date Created: December 13, 2021