Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $270,000)
The City of Manassas proposes to use the FY2022 Community Project grant to establish a case management team within its police department that will increase domestic violence victim and mental health consumer access to services that will reduce the number of emergency police interventions in the community. The Manassas City Police Department will utilize grant funding to staff one full-time mental health professional and one full-time police officer to create a case management team focused on directing individuals to community services before an emergency incident occurs. The City of Manassas is a community of approximately 43,000 residents in a ten square mile jurisdiction which is located within the Washington Metropolitan area. The city is racially and ethnically diverse, comprised of a population of approximately 40% White, 38% Hispanic, 15% Black, and 7% other races. Approximately 26% of city residents are foreign born. The Manassas City Police Department responded to more than 68,000 officer and citizen initiated calls for service in 2020. Since 2017, the police department has investigated more than 2,400 reports of violent and non-violent domestic incidents and has responded to more than 1,200 reports related to mental health concerns in the community.
Regarding the Manassas City Police Department’s response statistics to domestic violence and mental health concerns in the community, approximately 30% of mental health calls involved an emergency custody or temporary detention order, domestic incidents resulted in an arrest approximately 30% of the time, and less than 2% of mental health or domestic violence call types involved the use of force. The primary responsibility for response and investigation of domestic violence and mental health incidents is assigned to officers within the police department’s patrol division. Coordination of mental health and domestic violence services is assigned to a single sergeant within the police department’s community services section.
The police department’s patrol services division is comprised of six squads. Each patrol squad is made up of no more than eight officers and two supervisors. The police department is committed to providing Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) to its officers, and more than 70% of staff have received this training. All officers receive training to effectively investigate reports of domestic violence, but specialized training in domestic violence services and mitigation strategies is rare. A patrol officer’s work addressing mental health and domestic violence in the community generally centers on response to emergency incidents, service of detention orders, investigating past incidents of violence, and appearing as a witness for criminal trial.
The community services sergeant is assigned several other duties in addition to coordination of mental health and domestic violence services. These assignments include but are not limited to school resource officer supervision, community services staff supervision, public information, and organization of the department’s community outreach events. The community services sergeant, in their role as mental health services coordinator, is tasked with acting as a liaison with the local Community Services Board and coordinating department CIT training. The community services sergeant is also responsible for reviewing all reports of non-violent and violent domestic incidents. The review of domestic incidents is intended to identify early warning signs of violence and initiate follow ups with victims to ensure victims are aware of available services. These reviews and contacts are important to mitigate risk to victims, the community, and responding police officers.
The current resources available to the police department are insufficient to meet its community-oriented objectives related to the response to mental health and domestic incidents. First, expecting an effective review of the police department’s domestic incident caseload by a police sergeant that is also tasked with several other significant responsibilities is unreasonable.
Second, a single multi-disciplinary supervisor cannot effectively coordinate the complex resources needed to address community concerns regarding mental health and domestic violence in a meaningful way. Third, while CIT training has proven effective in reducing incidents of use of force when officers respond to mental health and domestic violence related calls for service, the police department is missing opportunities to connect individuals to services that may mitigate the need for future police intervention. Additionally, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Marcus Alert initiative, established in December 2020, is expected to increase already significantly constrained police department resource demands related to mental health.
Grant funding will be used to create a domestic violence and mental health case management team comprised of a mental health professional and a reassigned veteran officer made available through the hiring of a new police officer. The case management team will be established within the police department’s community services section and will report directly to the sergeant assigned to community services. Establishment of the case management team will resolve the inefficiencies in the police department’s efforts to mitigate domestic violence incidents and significantly increase coordination with the local Community Services Board to address mental health concerns. The case management team will also significantly increase the police department’s ability to respond to the future initiatives of the Marcus Alert system. Funding of the case management team will also permit the police department to focus more of its limited resources on other important community services initiatives.
The Manassas City Police Department was recognized with its seventh consecutive accreditation award in November 2020 by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). The certification included an excellence designation which is the highest accreditation level issued by CALEA. The police department is committed to addressing
community concerns by developing strong partnerships with community members and coordinating its efforts to respond to community concerns in partnership with other stakeholder organizations. Letters of support for this project from the Mayor of the City of Manassas, Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Prince William County Community Services Board, and City of Manassas Social Services are included in this application to demonstrate the police department’s commitment to community collaboration. Funding this project meets a well- recognized need in the community and will improve the lives of the residents of the City of Manassas.