BURLINGTON – Chief Thomas P. Browne is pleased to announce that the Burlington Police Department has kept a pledge to improve its ability to respond to those with mental health conditions by completing the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s One Mind Campaign.
“Mental health disorders are a challenge faced by many, including children, within our community, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Burlington Police Department is determined to be a resource for the community when it comes to addressing those challenges,” said Chief Browne. “I am proud of the work that our department has done to keep the One Mind Pledge, and I pledge to the Burlington community that we will continue to learn and improve.”
The One Mind Campaign was started by the IACP, a professional association for law enforcement leaders that provides training, technical assistance and recruitment services, in 2016. The campaign was created by a panel of law enforcement and mental health experts in an effort to address law enforcement’s response to those affected by mental health conditions. More than 600 law enforcement agencies worldwide have completed the campaign.
Achieving the goals of the One Mind Campaign Pledge is a major milestone in a long-term community policing strategy that involves mobilizing the resources of the whole community to address mental health issues.
To complete the One Mind Pledge, Burlington Police hired an in-house Mental Health Clinician, established a sustainable partnership with several other agencies and mental health programs, developed and implemented a model policy to address officers’ interactions with those affected by mental health conditions, and ensured that all of their officers and dispatchers received Mental Health First Aid training, with at least 20 percent of the department completing the more intensive Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) or equivalent crisis response training. Burlington Police exceeded the requirements, and currently has 43 percent of the department (29 officers) trained and certified in CIT. The department also has an in-house Addiction Recovery Coach.
To complete the required training to meet the goals of the One Mind Pledge, the department used State 911 grant funding to get all officers (Full time and Part time) and all dispatchers certified in Mental Health First Aid, both in 2019 and again in 2022.
The department also worked with Metro Boston CIT and the Front Line Initiative to get at least 20 percent of Burlington Police Officers Crisis Intervention Training. This included hosting a class with the Front Line Initiative in Burlington at the Grandview Farm in May. In addition to this training, the department has also sent ten officers and their mental health clinician to the prestigious 40-hour FBI Crisis Negotiator class.
Burlington Police also use their state of the art Virtra-180 Virtual Reality training simulator so that officers can repeatedly practice de-escalation techniques, and the department also uses the equipment to help train others in the community.
Burlington Police also partnered with Burlington Youth and Family Services, the Burlington Council on Aging, the Burlington Board of Health, the Burlington School Department and the Burlington Fire Department, along with the Police Department’s in-house Mental Health Clinician and Addiction Recovery Coach to create a new Community Response Team. The Community Response Team meets monthly in order to share information and meet needs of specific people within the community.
All officers have access to the Mental Health Clinician and Recovery Coach for when a co-response is needed on calls. Four officers have also been assigned as liaison officers to communities of interest in Burlington. In addition to their regular duties, these individual officers work closely with the Mental Health Clinician to form community partnerships and stay up to date on issues affecting seniors, those on the autism spectrum, the mentally ill and veterans.
On top of all those steps, the Department has also received a $500,000 grant from the Cummings Foundation which provides 10 years’ worth of funding for both the training simulator and a part-time Problem Solving Analyst, who will monitor mental health efforts and share information with community partners. Information sharing and analysis will be used to continuously shape the department’s mental health strategy moving forward.
“While we are proud to have completed the One Mind Campaign, which is one of the nation’s foremost programs for helping departments respond better to mental health issues, our work is also far from being focused on just one program or pledge,” said Lt. Glen Mills, who led the One Mind effort. “The Burlington Police Department has embraced a long-term strategy for improving mental health outcomes, and we continue to seek more partnerships within the community.”
The One Mind Pledge gives participants up to three years to complete the pledge. Burlington Police began developing a comprehensive community mental health strategy in 2017, obtaining grants to assist in addressing substance misuse issues in 2017 and 2018 and mental health issues in 2018. They took the One Mind Pledge in 2019 and despite significant setbacks due to the Pandemic, received notification that they completed the Pledge on August 19.
“I want to express my gratitude to Burlington Youth and Family Services, the Burlington Council on Aging, the Burlington Board of Health, the Burlington School Department and the Burlington Fire Department for their partnership on our Community Response Team, which will help us work together to address these important issues within Burlington,” said Chief Browne. “I would also like to thank retired Capt. Gregory Skehan, our Mental Health Clinician Karen DiRienzo, and Lt. Glen Mills for their work to ensure the department completed the pledge.”
The IACP provides resources to departments that pledge to join the One Mind Campaign, including a toolkit produced by the Bureau of Justice Assistance with resources for law enforcement agencies looking to partner with mental health providers, a model policy for law enforcement when responding to persons suffering from mental illness, and resources for planning mental health first aid and crisis intervention team program trainings.
For more information about the One Mind Campaign, visit the IACP’s website at https://www.theiacp.org/projects/one-mind-campaign.