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NJ Partnering Cops, Mental Health Workers Cut Uses Of Force, Arrests

Documents from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office show that a program pairing police and mental health professionals to respond to crisis calls resulted in minimal use of force and arrests in two New Jersey counties. The documents were released after the office fought the New Jersey Monitor and The Record of Bergen County in court for nine months to shield them from public view. The program, Arrive Together, which stands for Alternative Responses to Reduce Instances of Violence and Escalation — partners a community-based mental health counselor or screener with a plainclothes police officer in an unmarked car during some mental or behavioral health calls, the New Jersey Monitor reports. People in mental crisis or with untreated serious mental illness are likelier to be killed by police, with experts estimating at least a quarter of fatal police encounters involve people with mental illness. The Arrive Together program is intended to defuse such encounters, keep people out of the criminal justice system, and connect them with community services.

Gov. Phil Murphy has announced that he aims to spend another $9.5 million next year — nearly twice what’s now budgeted — to implement the program in more municipalities and expand the hours the teams operate. Crisis-response teams have reported more than 2,100 interactions since the program launched, according to a budget summary. The Brookings Institution, where Attorney General Matt Platkin worked as a policy adviser, examined the program and issued a laudatory report last year. Researchers analyzed 342 calls in Cumberland and Union counties between the program’s launch and mid-January 2023 and concluded the program “shows much promise and should be expanded and examined across the country.” Platkin’s office denied the New Jersey Monitor’s requests for the records Brookings based its study on, but a judge ruled they must be released, allowing redactions to protect the privacy of people the program has served.


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