For Immediate Release: June 6, 2022
Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Acting Attorney General
TRENTON – Acting Attorney Matthew J. Platkin today announced the expansion of a program that pairs a law enforcement officer with a certified mental health screener to respond together to 9-1-1 calls for behavioral health crises. The initiative, known as ARRIVE Together (“Alternative Responses to Reduce Instances of Violence & Escalation”), will begin operating a second pilot run jointly by the Elizabeth and Linden Police Departments later this month. The expansion follows a pilot program that was first launched in December and operated out of the New Jersey State Police’s Cumberland County stations based in Bridgeton and Port Norris.
Under the expansion, a screener from Trinitas Medical Center will travel with a plainclothes Elizabeth or Linden police officer in the officer’s unmarked vehicle to respond to 9-1-1 calls for service relating to mental or behavioral health crises during shifts that originate in either the Elizabeth Police Department’s or Linden Police Department’s areas of responsibility. ARRIVE Together shifts will be held two times per week on days alternating between each police department. When not responding to reactive calls, the ARRIVE team will follow up with previous individuals served, as well as proactively visit individuals in the community known to law enforcement that would benefit from such outreach.
“I am proud of the success the ARRIVE Together program has shown during its pilot period,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Connecting individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis with mental health professionals will help to de-escalate these situations in a safe and healthy way. This program is yet another tool for our law enforcement officers to utilize and better assist the communities they serve.”
“The expansion of the ARRIVE Together initiative is the latest step in our effort to better assess and address behavioral health crises that law enforcement officers encounter and strengthen public safety across New Jersey,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “By piloting this program in two additional jurisdictions, we are broadening our goal of connecting those in crisis with the proper mental health resources they need, which in turn helps officers, counselors, and the communities we all collectively serve.”
“This is another step forward in our ongoing efforts to help avoid tragedies by giving individuals the mental health care they need during crisis situations,” Department of Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. “I applaud the Attorney General’s Office, Trinitas, Elizabeth and Linden for their partnership. Improved outcomes between law enforcement and those dealing with a mental health crisis is a shared goal. This is all about saving lives – and starting the process of rebuilding lives.”
“As a former law enforcement official, I understand the many roles officers are expected to perform in times of crises. The expansion of the ARRIVE program will provide more law enforcement officers with the expertise of mental health screeners in order to make proper judgement calls,” said Senator Joe Cryan, who served as Union County Sheriff. “This program will decrease pressure on responding officers and give them the support they need so they can continue their work to help others and keep our communities safe.”
“ARRIVE together establishes an important and innovative collaboration between New Jersey law enforcement and mental health professionals. This working partnership between local mental health screeners and officers delivers crisis and community health first response effectively and at significant cost savings,” said Senator Linda Greenstein, Chair of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. “I am happy to see this program being expanded to Elizabeth and Linden, as it allows us to better ensure the public safety of all New Jersey residents.”
“ARRIVE Together is an encouraging initiative that partners behavioral health professionals and law enforcement officers by providing dual services and resources to individuals experiencing mental health emergencies,” said Assemblyman William Spearman, Chair of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. “This pilot program demonstrated success in Cumberland County and I expect that it will do the same in Elizabeth and eventually across the state. This program is a step in the right direction to help reduce bias and violence between civilians and law enforcement. It helps support individuals with the right tools by equipping 9-1-1 responses with professional expertise in behavioral health.”
“The Elizabeth and Linden Police Departments are proud to be a part of this response program,” said Chief Giacomo Sacca of the Elizabeth Police Department. “Police service to a community with separate and distinct needs varies based on dynamics of the incident. A single agency trained in one discipline is limited by their knowledge base. However, through team efforts like Arrive Together, we can ensure that we are pooling our resources for the best response possible.”
“The mental health crisis in our state has expanded exponentially over the past several years, and Police Officers are called upon to assist in these situations at an alarming rate,” said Linden Police Chief David Hart. “This program, combined with our existing initiatives and enhanced training, will further strengthen our relationships and help us better serve this vulnerable part of our community.”
“Trinitas is proud and excited to partner with the Attorney General and the Linden and Elizabeth police departments on this innovative pilot program,” said Dr. Jim McCreath, VP of Behavioral Health at Trinitas Regional Medical Center.
“With the noted influx of persons with mental health illnesses, the teaming of police and mental health professionals provide the balance required to determine lines of responsibility for the appropriate care of an individual,” said Dr. Pamela B. Jones, CEO of Communities In Cooperation, Inc.
“I am proud that Elizabeth is one of two cities chosen to be a part of this pilot program that will allow our officers the ability to partner with a mental health professional when responding to crisis calls,” said Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. “We are confident that this will not only strengthen our relationship with the community, but improve our mental health resources for our residents.”
“We are excited to be a part of this expansion to the Arrive Together initiative. This will be another helpful tool for our Police Officers to improve efforts and promote safety and our residents in crisis,” said Linden Mayor Derek Armstead.
“Thank you to Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin for bringing the ARRIVE Together program to Union County,” said Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel. “The pairing of a law enforcement officer with a mental health professional responding to the scene of a crisis promotes de-escalation of the problem and public safety, while providing immediate options to assist the citizen in need. The Union County Prosecutor’s Office is committed to supporting this innovative initiative so that law enforcement may better serve the communities we have sworn to protect.”
Across New Jersey, a significant proportion of uses of force by law enforcement involve a civilian identified as either suffering from mental illness or who is under the influence. The ARRIVE Together initiative is a recognition that this situation needs improvement, and a step towards achieving better outcomes.
For more information on the Attorney General’s Office’s initiatives to improve outcomes for individuals suffering from mental illness, intellectual disabilities and disorders, substance abuse, and other behavioral health concerns, please visit www.njoag.gov/behavioralhealth
The Acting Attorney General; First Assistant Prosecutor James Tansey, Union County Prosecutor’s Office; Elizabeth Police Chief Giacomo Sacca; Linden Police Chief David Hart; Dr. Jim McCreath, Vice President of Behavioral Health at Trinitas; and Dr. Pamela Jones of Communities in Cooperation announced the expansion of ARRIVE Together this morning. Watch here https://youtu.be/blNaIuAHLGA.