GLOUCESTER — Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and Police Chief Edward Conley are pleased to invite the community to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new mobile outreach bus that will help the police department’s Community Impact Unit with everything from mental health outreach to serving free ice cream to kids.
The vehicle will be used to aid mental and behavioral health outreach efforts by the Gloucester Police Department. Specifically, it will be made available to the department’s jail diversion/mental health clinician, Briana Tricomi, and community health navigator, Roberto “Tito” Rodriguez, for use with mobile crisis outreach and response.
Formerly a 16-passenger bus that was donated in good condition by the Cape Ann Transportation Authority, the Community Impact Unit vehicle was updated and given a light refurbishing thanks to generous donations from the Cape Ann Savings Bank and Bank Gloucester.
The unit will be unveiled at a ceremony at City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. Members of the public are welcome to attend.
“A positive relationship between our residents, especially our most vulnerable citizens and their police officers is a key component of maintaining a safe and accepting community, and I’m proud of the work the Community Impact Unit has done to make this project a reality,” Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken said. “This vehicle will truly be a community asset, and I want to thank everyone who made it possible.”
Police removed the passenger seats from the bus and installed a generator and two freezers. They also plan to purchase 100 backpacks and fill them with essentials such as non-perishable food, toilet paper, shampoo, soap, razors, and flashlights. The backpacks will be distributed to those in need.
The bus will also be stocked with Narcan for distribution, sleeping bags and tarps for those experiencing homelessness, as well as basketballs and equipment for whiffle ball, baseball, softball and street hockey.
“Gloucester Police are committed to working with the community to use pathways other than arrest to help those battling substance abuse disorder and other mental and behavioral health issues,” Chief Conley said. “This vehicle will help us meet those in need even more affectively than before.”
In the summer months, the Community Impact Unit will use the bus to hand out free ice cream to kids, as well visit parks and playgrounds.
The department plans to reach out to partners, businesses and other community members to organize and participate in events such as recreational sports events for kids.
The bus will also be stocked with brochures from all the different agencies the Community Impact Unit has partnered with, and will be used at Community Policing events such as Safety Day and Kops n Kids visits.
Donations from the Bank Gloucester and Cape Ann Savings Bank fully funded the vehicle’s refurbishment as well as all of its program supplies. The city will fund maintenance, gas, insurance and registration costs of the bus.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to enhance our outreach efforts and the Community Impact Unit’s mission to improve the quality of life within our community,” Chief Conley said. “I want to thank CATA, Cape Ann Savings Bank and Bank Gloucester for their generous support of this important initiative, which will ultimately benefit city residents first and foremost.”
Anyone seeking to donate to the Community Impact Unit’s work can send a check in the name of the Gloucester Fund to the Community Impact Unit at Browns Mall, 186 Main St., Suite 23, Gloucester, MA 01930.