Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $549,750)
The NJ State Police (NJSP) proposes to improve interactions between law enforcement officers and individuals with mental health disorders (MHDs) or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders (MHSUDs) by implementing co-responder programs that pair a plainclothes law enforcement officer with a mental health specialist to respond together to behavioral health crisis 9-1-1 calls. The NJSP is requesting $550,000, and providing matching salary funding, to support this program—called ARRIVE Together (“Alternative Responses to Reduce Instances of Violent Escalation”)—in three separate NJ jurisdictions. The NJSP would expand its existing ARRIVE Together pilot in Cumberland County, NJ, working with the Cumberland Guidance Center, and sub-grant the remaining funds to two densely populated and racially diverse municipalities through a competitive process to implement similar ARRIVE programs in conjunction with their respective county mental health screening centers. Each program would fund a full-time mental health screener or other screening center professional to co-respond to crisis 9-1-1 calls with an officer in an unmarked police vehicle.
Asking law enforcement officers to respond to 9-1-1 behavioral health crisis calls without the benefit of a mental health specialist can lead to negative outcomes. Approximately 35 percent of uses of force by officers in New Jersey involve an individual identified as suffering from a MHD/MHSUD. ARRIVE’s target population is individuals with MHD/MHSUD who are the subject of 9-1-1 calls for a law enforcement response. Based on the ARRIVE pilot work to date, the NJSP expects the three programs to serve approximately 1,250 individuals annually (through both initial calls for service and follow-ups).
Cumberland County, the site of one of the three proposed ARRIVE programs, is one of the poorest and least healthy in NJ. The number of poor mental health days per month reported by residents is among the highest in the state. In 2018, there were 1,260 cases of MHD/MHSUD reported by county providers, representing 56% of all treatment admissions.
The three ARRIVE programs will be designed by studying the outcomes from the existing NJSP ARRIVE pilot in Cumberland County, as well as through community engagement and working groups in all three jurisdictions—comprised of law enforcement, mental health providers, clergy, and other community leaders.
ARRIVE advances federal priority areas in four ways: (1) promoting racial equity; (2) increasing access to justice; (3) strengthening community safety and protecting the public from crime and evolving threats; (4) building trust between law enforcement and the community.