Frederick Ryan, Chief of Police
112 Mystic St.
Arlington, MA 02474
For Immediate Release
Friday, Dec. 23, 2016
Contact: Captain Richard Flynn, PIO
Email: rflyn[email protected]
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Arlington Police and DDJ Initiative Partners Meet with White House Officials, Public Health Agencies to Discuss Goals
ARLINGTON — Chief Frederick Ryan is pleased to announce that a representative from the Arlington Police Department was among the group of law enforcement officials from the White House-led Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) Initiative that met to discuss furthering the program’s goals earlier this month.
The meeting was held on Dec. 15 and was hosted by Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian, with representatives of the 21 Middlesex County police departments in attendance — all of which are a part of the DDJ Initiative.
In October 2016, the Arlington Police Department joined the DDJ Initiative, pledging its commitment to reduce the number of mentally ill individuals awaiting trial in local jails. Nationwide, 64 percent of people in local jails suffer from mental illness, while 68 percent have a substance use disorder.
“The number of people who are sitting in jail cells while struggling with addiction and mental illness is staggering, and more must be done to reduce these numbers,” Chief Ryan said. “Through the DDJ Initiative, we’ll be able to create concrete steps for improving the lives of those most in need.”
During the first in-person gathering with the White House, law enforcement officials met with Lynn Overmann and Kelly Jin from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, along with representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. Together, they discussed efforts to enhance data collection and utilization to decrease incarceration rates for those suffering from mental health and substance use disorders.
“These are not issues we can arrest or incarcerate our way out of,” Sheriff Koutoujian said. “Law enforcement agencies in Middlesex County are working hard to divert appropriate individuals away from the justice system and towards treatment. Through this initiative we hope to better utilize not just law enforcement data, but also health care data, to enhance those efforts and create better outcomes for those suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders.”
The initiative, now run by the National Association of Counties, works to build on data-driven strategies that have been successfully implemented across the country and share best practices. Additionally, it works to dissect how to overcome common barriers to using data in order to identify and divert people charged with low-level offenses and those with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders out of the criminal justice system and into effective, community-based care.
“As we have built the Data-Driven Justice Initiative over the last year, we have seen how critical law enforcement leadership is to tackling the hard challenge of addressing the needs of people with mental illness,” Overmann said. “We are thrilled to be working closely with Sheriff Koutoujian, the chiefs of 21 police departments, as well as key health care partners. We believe that Middlesex County could well become a national model for local, county, and state collaboration.