SHREWSBURY – The Shrewsbury Police Division responded to just about 1,000 psychological well being calls between 2017 to 2021.
That marked a 38% enhance from the earlier 5 12 months interval, in response to Chief Kevin Anderson.
Enter Jessica Atwood, who’s the division’s new jail diversion program co-response clinician.
“Whereas our officers are wonderful at what they do, we’ve got to comprehend that they’re cops and never licensed psychological well being professionals with a proper training within the psychological well being discipline,” Anderson stated in a current press launch.
Police word spike in psychological well being calls
Seeing the uptick in psychological well being calls, the division sought out an individual to assist present a better degree of service to residents in a disaster.
Atwood, who began her function in April, advised the Group Advocate final week that working with the Shrewsbury Police Division has been going “great” to this point.
“Everybody has been so welcoming,” she stated. “It’s [a] change for everyone as a result of it is a entire new place.”
“In a brief time frame, from emergencies to comply with ups, she’s been an amazing asset,” Anderson stated. “She constructed a very good relationship with the group.”
Atwood grew up close to Lowell and Chelmsford, although she’s lived in Worcester County for the previous six years.
She’s spent about 12 years in her present occupation, working for the Framingham-based human companies company Advocates since 2016.
“I’ve at all times had an curiosity in psychology and legal justice,” Atwood stated.
Her first job within the discipline concerned working as a psychological well being technician at Lowell Basic Hospital’s emergency room.
Whereas she was working on the hospital, Atwood met clinicians who would consider sufferers within the emergency division.
“I requested a clinician as soon as, ‘How do I get your job?’” Atwood recalled.
That query led her to return to graduate faculty earlier than finally interning and later being employed by Advocates.
Discussions about clinician date again years
As Anderson described it, the method of bringing on somebody with abilities like Atwood’s dates again to his interview to be chief.
Anderson put a one 12 months strategic plan collectively, which included evaluating the division’s responses for psychological well being and people in disaster. Anderson needed to have a look at coaching that targeted on the division’s responses and its potential to establish individuals in disaster.
He was additionally desirous about exploring whether or not the division ought to have a disaster intervention staff and rent a psychological well being clinician.
As soon as he was formally employed as chief, Anderson certainly started intently reviewing the division.
“One of many issues we decided was there was a necessity for a psychological well being clinician,” he stated.
The police division obtained approval for funds for this place as a part of the Fiscal Yr 2022 finances.
Lt. Nick Perna then labored with Advocates, although, to safe an roughly $300,000 grant by the state Division of Psychological Well being.
The grant is sweet for 3 years, supporting Atwood’s place for that interval. It additionally leaves a risk that it might be renewed after that interval.
Different communities herald clinicians
In launching their co-response program, Shrewsbury joins different communities which have additionally labored with Advocates on related efforts.
Such space communities embrace Hudson, Marlborough, Northborough, Southborough and Westborough.
The primary Advocates co-response program was launched in Framingham in 2003. Marlborough replicated it in 2008. Hudson joined in 2018. Westborough, Southborough and Northborough have been companions since 2019.
Clinician begins work in Shrewsbury
Again in Shrewsbury, Atwood started working with the Shrewsbury Police Division in April after six weeks of coaching.
As a part of her work, she co-responds with cops to calls starting from people in psychiatric disaster to home assaults to elder companies instances.
“[I] assess them, assist de-escalate the scenario and get them the suitable assets and remedy that they could want,” Atwood stated.
She stated this helps keep away from “pointless” emergency room visits.
Shrewsbury officers have stated that Atwood is a superb asset to the division, Anderson stated.
One of many division’s objectives, likewise, is to redirect individuals with psychological sickness and substance use dysfunction to the healthcare system against the judicial system.
Over the previous 12 months, all of Shrewsbury’s officers have accomplished a number of psychological well being trainings. Some have additionally been despatched to disaster intervention coaching.
“On the finish of the day, it’s the very best consequence for the individual concerned,” Anderson stated. “Having Jess on scene, she will know the cues to establish any individual with emotional issues or psychological well being points and get them the suitable companies that they want.”
Jail Diversion program goals to help police in addition to communities