Chief of Police
2 Mudge Way
Bedford, MA 01730
For Immediate Release
Friday, September 26, 2014
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Bedford Police Department Awarded State Grant for New Mental Health Program
BEDFORD — Police Chief Robert Bongiorno announces that Eliot Community Human Services, in partnership with the Bedford Police Department, has been awarded a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health to support a newly-developed mental health program in Bedford.
“Recognizing and dealing with mental illness is a serious concern for law enforcement in modern society,” Chief Bongiorno said. “Working with the Eliot Community Human Services, the Bedford Police Department will have the personnel and resources that it needs to provide effective police services to a vulnerable portion of the population, and we are very proud to develop this program for our community.”
Eliot has been working closely with the Bedford Police Department for the past several months to develop and implement a police-mental health emergency services partnership. The goal of the program is to divert individuals with mental illness, substance abuse, or developmental disabilities from the criminal justice system to appropriate treatment options. The program model was collaboratively developed by members of the Bedford Police Department, Eliot Community Human Services, Bedford Youth and Family, Bedford Council on Aging, and other stakeholders in the community.
This mental health program will station a mental health clinician at the Bedford Police Department. The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health will cover all costs associated with this program including the clinician’s salary.
The clinician will accompany police officers on calls for service and will provide an immediate evaluation on scene. In the case of non-violent or misdemeanor offenses, the goal of the program is to provide mental health and substance abuse services as alternatives to arrest. In addition to immediate intervention, the clinician will provide follow-up contact with individuals in an effort to focus on prevention and reduce future repeat calls. Successful engagement in treatment is the key to breaking the cycle of revolving-door police contact for citizens with mental health problems in Bedford.
This type of program has been sought and encouraged by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.