Frederick Ryan, Chief of Police
112 Mystic St.
Arlington, MA 02474
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Contact: Tricia Tiedt
Email: [email protected]
Arlington Police Chief Takes Part in NAMI Conference
ARLINGTON — The Arlington Police Department is proud to report that Police Chief Frederick Ryan joined the Massachusetts chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) yesterday to advocate for a new bill that would help police and behavioral health officials better serve those with addiction or mental health issues.
Chief Ryan joined Sen. Jason Lewis, who filed the bill, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, and police officials from the Somerville and Cambridge Police Departments at the conference. While there, Chief Ryan spoke about the success of his Arlington Outreach Initiative, and why Arlington should act as a model for other departments throughout the state.
“It’s been so rewarding to watch the cultural change in the organization. Cops did what we trained them to do, they went out and arrested people. When we change our vision and our values, so too changes the culture of the organization,” Chief Ryan said while speaking at the conference. “When did you expect to see law enforcement executives standing before the Legislature asking for more treatment services and not more cops? For far too long we’ve been telling people we can arrest our way out of addiction, we can arrest our way out of mental health disorders. It’s not the case.”
The bill, filed last month and still without a bill number, would create the Center of Excellence in Community Policing and Behavioral Health to facilitate “cost-effective and evidence-based mental health and substance use crisis response training programs for municipal police officers, the goal of which shall be to decrease the unnecessary arrest and incarceration of people with behavioral health conditions.”
The center, which Senator Lewis modeled after a similar program in Bexar County, Texas, would provide a 40-hour crisis intervention training for officers to verbally deescalate situations, identify the signs of mental health and substance abuse disorders, and refer individuals to appropriate resources or services available to them.
Sixty police departments in Massachusetts already provide some form of training similar to the Arlington Outreach Initiative. One of the bill’s goals, however, is to train at least 25 percent of every department in the state, so that a trained officer would be available in every department on every shift.
“I am proud to join NAMI in advocating for Senator Lewis’ bill,” Chief Ryan said. “We have seen the Arlington Outreach Initiative – and similar programs – save lives. It’s time to provide this same standard of care to every community.”
Click here for more information on the Arlington Outreach Initiative.