Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $500,000)
FY 2022 City of Lawrenceville Police Department JMHCP Grant Abstract
Over the last four decades law enforcement has increasingly been called to manage non-criminal justice related matters; social worker, emergency medical provider, arbiter, caretaker, and child advocate are some examples of the roles law enforcement is demanded to play in today’s society. The most prominent of ancillary responsibilities law enforcement has been tied to is the provision of mental health care. Since the signing of the Community Mental Health Act in 1963, individuals suffering with behavioral health diagnoses have experienced a disproportionate rate of homelessness and criminal justice system involvement as compared to the rest of the United States population. Officers have been forced into an arena they are neither prepared for, and arguably not qualified to succeed in.
Officers often find themselves at a loss in terms of actionable steps they can take to effectively address the widely varying concerns facing this population. When responding to calls for service involving emotionally disturbed persons, officers must contend with both the immediate need of crisis intervention and the serious/ time consuming prospect of continued intervention. Law enforcement’s role in society is one of maintaining order, as such it has adapted to the many roles it is required to play. As a function of this misalignment, homelessness and mental health have been inappropriately and unfortunately over criminalized the last few decades. Simultaneously and systematically the supportive housing and behavioral health systems in the United States have experienced unprecedented failure as they witnessed an incredible influx of consumers.
The Lawrenceville Police Department seeks to improve its restorative justice system to compensate for the lack of social service provision. By partnering with Impact46 and View Point Health we hope to create a one stop shop for emergency/ transitional housing and a supportive network to help citizens effectively and more easily engage the resources they need. Building on the success of the current Crisis Response Team we are developing the F.I.R.S.T. (For Intensive Response and Supportive Transitions) Housing Center or FHC. A collaborative effort and coordinated approach to serving the homeless residents in the city limits of Lawrenceville that provides emergency, transitional housing, and supportive services. This pilot program is intended to establish efficacy of wrap around services in our community and is the first JMHCP grant the City of Lawrenceville has applied for. We are requesting $500,000.00 to be used for the renovation of housing and office space and to provide for the initial hiring of key personnel.