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Seek funding to hire three new full-time workers: one police officer, one mental health professional and one civilian CIT coordinator.

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $550,000)

Police frequently engage individuals with mental health disorders (MHDs) or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders (MHSUDs) in communities across America, including Jonesboro, AR. Service calls related to mental health are increasing at a pace wherein crisis responses and/or specialized training for officers has become paramount for policing. Sadly, post-pandemic mental health needs have surged and landed in the laps of police at alarming rates. Encounters between police and those with MHDs/MHSUDs can escalate into dire situations resulting in unnecessary arrests and serious injuries to citizens and officers. The purpose of the Jonesboro Police Department’s Crisis Response Unit (CRU) is to improve public safety and outcomes for individuals with MHDs/MHSUDs through collaboration with a behavioral health partner, Arisa Health. Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officers will be paired with a mental health professional to respond together in the community. Primary activities include responding to individuals with MHDs/MHSUDs while providing verbal de-escalation, assessing treatment needs, and direct linkage to community resources. The CRU will provide follow-ups for individuals in need of continued support beyond the initial call. Grant funds will be used to create a full-time CRU between police and mental health professionals following the recommendation of the 2022 SIM Workshop in Craighead County. Expected outcomes include diversion from unnecessary incarceration, safer and more effective responses to those with mental health needs, reduction in the high utilization of emergency service by identified individuals, improved connection with local resources, and specialization in crisis response via cross-training between law enforcement and mental health professionals working together. The CRU will service the City of Jonesboro which is the largest town in Craighead County. According to 2021 census data, Jonesboro has a population of 79,324 with 20% living in poverty, 14% disabled, and 9% uninsured. The demographic breakdown includes 51% female with 69% Caucasian, 21% African American, 6% Hispanic, 1.5% Asian; and 4% mixed race. The lead applicant is the City of Jonesboro and the total amount of $550,000 is requested. The project targets anyone in Jonesboro that calls for police assistance or 9-11 related to a MHD/MHSUD and/or related mental health need. The following priority areas will be addressed: Advancing racial equity/support for underserved communities, Effective strategies to reduce the risk of harm to individuals with MHDs/MHSUDs encountering police, Effective strategies for the identification/treatment of females that have been incarcerated with MHD/MHSUDs, and Interventions that have been shown by empirical evidence to reduce recidivism.

Date Created: September 26, 2023