Stratford Police Win $350,000 Grant to Address Mental Health Crisis!

 Grant from U.S. Department of Justice

The Town of Stratford won a U.S. Department of Justice grant of $350,000 earlier this month to bring a licensed social worker onto the Stratford Police force to serve members of the community who become engaged with the police and are in need of mental health services.

The funding for Implementing Crisis Intervention Teams was one of only 24 such grants awarded nationwide through the Community Policing Development program at the DOJ Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). It covers a contracted social worker for two years plus crisis intervention training for six Stratford Police sergeants.

The social worker will respond promptly to persons in the community who are in a behavioral health crisis and pose a risk to the safety of themselves, police or others.

The crisis intervention training for frontline police supervisors will help the entire department understand the benefits of diverting some individuals with serious, untreated mental illness and substance use disorders away from the criminal justice system and toward behavioral health care. De- escalation tactics can reduce the risk of serious injury or death during an emergency interaction between persons in crisis and police officers.

Stratford Mayor Laura R. Hoydick said, “Our Police Department under the leadership of Chief Joseph McNeil has earned national recognition for its work in community engagement and incident de- escalation. I commend the chief and our Director of Community and Senior Services Tammy Trojanowski for coming forward requesting a licensed social worker to better serve members of our community who are in a mental health crisis. We are extremely grateful to our federal partners at the Department of Justice for supporting our efforts to continually improve our services in this increasingly important area of police work.”

Connecticut’s U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Stratford’s U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro filed a joint letter in support of the Town’s application for the grant funding. They stated, “Approximately one in five police calls for service nationwide involve a mental health or substance abuse crisis, according to the American Psychological Association. Officers report that these calls are becoming increasingly common and gravely concerning given that most police lack the training necessary to assess and assist mentally-distressed individuals.”

The local project will be the responsibility of Chief McNeil and co-directed by Trojanowski.

Said McNeil, “This is another layer of service for our community. Working together, we will better deliver the highest quality of service to our citizens. When we do our jobs better, our residents thrive and our town becomes safer.”

Trojanowski, too, was pleased with the news of the grant funding. “This grant allows us to significantly strengthen our safety net for individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis and their loved ones,” she said. “We will be able to respond more quickly with resources to support treatment and recovery.”

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