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Mental Illness and Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Crisis Co-Responders and Specialized Police Responses.

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, $550,000)


The Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, the lead mental health agency, in partnership with the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office, requests $550,000 over three years to develop the Crisis Outreach during Police Encounters Response System (Project COPE). Services will be delivered in the high-poverty area of Atlantic City, New Jersey, with the goal to improve public safety responses and outcomes for individuals with mental illness (MI) and co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse (CMISA). Project COPE will use a Co-Responder Team (CRT) model where Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained police officers, and a social worker will work together to implement real-time interventions during law enforcement encounters to assess the needs of adults with MI and CMISA, evaluate opportunities for diversion, and connect individuals to treatment. Project COPE will interface with the Sheriff’s Hope One Mobile Unit, where peer support specialists with lived experience will help to engage individuals into treatment and provide follow-up support.

A planning phase will include the formation of the Co-Responder Team, the development of a Project COPE training curriculum/toolkit, and training CIT officers on the CRT model. During the implementation phase, Project COPE will be deployed in the field, and individuals connected to treatment and a public messaging campaign will be implemented to build community awareness. Priority areas include: (1) promoting CIT and CRT strategies to help law enforcement to identify and reduce harm to individuals with MI or CMISA; (2) applying gender-specific CIT and CRT strategies to divert female offenders with MI or CMISA to treatment; (3) using CIT and CRT synergistically to reduce MI-related arrests, and (4) implementing validated triage assessments in the field and evidence-based assessments for treatment referrals.

The target population will be adults with MI or CMISA with a focus on female offenders with histories of trauma. The service area is Atlantic City, New Jersey, where 37.1% of its 37,743 residents live in poverty and where numerous law enforcement encounters involve individuals with MI and CMISA.  Deliverables include 1) developing the Project COPE Response System, 2) forming the CRT team with a CIT officer and social worker, 3) training 25 CIT officers on CRT, 4) engaging 200 individuals with MI and CMISA into services, 5) developing a best practices toolkit, and 6) building awareness and community support through outreach events. RowanSOM has never received a JMHCP grant. The subcontractor is the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office.

Date Created: December 16, 2021