PISCATAWAY – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin joined law enforcement, mental health professionals, and community leaders from across Middlesex County today at a roundtable to highlight the continued expansion of the Alternative Response to Reduce Instances of Violence and Escalation (ARRIVE) Together program in Middlesex County.
ARRIVE began as a co-response program with the New Jersey State Police in Cumberland County in December 2021 in partnership with the Cumberland County Guidance Center. The program paired a New Jersey state trooper with a mental health screener in an unmarked vehicle to respond to 9-1-1 calls relating to mental or behavioral health emergencies.
Today, ARRIVE includes several models operating across the State, with the model used in each community tailored to each community’s unique needs, resources, and priorities. Models range from the co-response model to follow-up outreach, where law enforcement identify individuals they have engaged with, and mental health providers respond without law enforcement to ensure residents have access to mental health and other support services. In addition, a telehealth model in Atlantic City provides law enforcement officers with electronic tablets to provide individuals in distress with real-time virtual telehealth services from mental health professionals.
In partnership with Rutgers University Behavioral Health, Middlesex County began a co-response model in Edison, Highland Park, New Brunswick, and Woodbridge in May. Over the next month, Piscataway, Plainsboro, and South Brunswick will join the municipalities served by ARRIVE in Middlesex County.
“At today’s roundtable, our law enforcement and mental health partners, alongside key community leaders, shared ARRIVE success stories as well as the best practices they have developed as the program grows,” said Attorney General Platkin. “With each iteration, ARRIVE services are tailored to the specific needs of each community, ensuring the best possible outcomes when our residents are in crisis.”
So far, ARRIVE has reported over 1,300 interactions with individuals experiencing mental and behavior health emergencies.
Currently, ARRIVE operates in ten counties and serves over twenty percent of New Jersey’s residents. ARRIVE is on track to operate in all 21 New Jersey counties by the end of this year.
With the addition of South Brunswick, Plainsboro, and Piscataway, ARRIVE serves almost half of Middlesex County’s 860,000 residents.
“The ARRIVE program has been very successful in the communities of New Brunswick, Highland Park, Edison, and Woodbridge,” said Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone. “This is due to the leadership partners of the municipal police departments, their governing bodies, University Behavioral Health, the MCPO and the Attorney General’s Office. ARRIVE anticipates adding Piscataway, Plainsboro, and South Brunswick in the next few weeks. The MCPO applauds ARRIVE and their multi-disciplinary approach to mental health issues in our communities.”
Between May 2 and October 20, the ARRIVE program reported 58 responses in Middlesex County, and notably, none of those responses resulted in an arrest or injury to a resident, officer, or health care professional. Instead, outcomes included hospitalization, mental health treatment, and referrals for social services.
Since its inception in 2021, ARRIVE has demonstrated its value as a means of aiding New Jerseyans coping with mental and behavioral health emergencies by taking a clinical approach to responding to residents, rather than a punitive one. As noted in a March 2023 report by The Brookings Institution, ARRIVE has resulted in no arrests, no uses of force, higher utilization of mental health services, and fewer racial disparities across outcomes.
Health care providers from around the state have signed on to support ARRIVE in order to divert individuals experiencing mental and behavioral health emergencies away from the criminal justice system and toward resources and support in their community. Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care has been a partner since ARRIVE launched in Middlesex County in May. Their partnership, along with the partnership of local and county law enforcement, has been instrumental in the expansion of ARRIVE in Middlesex County in just five months. Not only will the expansion in Middlesex County result in more residents having access to the ARRIVE program, but more than a quarter of the municipal police departments in the county will have access to this valuable resource when responding to these challenging calls.
“Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care is thrilled to partner with the Attorney General’s Office and local law enforcement officials to ensure the continued access to safe and effective screening processes in the community and to help further this critically important ARRIVE Together initiative,” said Frank Ghinassi, President and CEO for Rutgers Health University Behavioral Health Care.
The Office of the Attorney General is grateful for the incredible support this program has received from Governor Murphy and the Legislature, which included a $10 million appropriation for the program in the fiscal year 2024 budget. Those funds support ARRIVE as it expands. As we expand, ARRIVE is exploring additional models and locations to make ARRIVE available to more residents throughout the state.
“ARRIVE Together has shown great promise with improved outcomes for individuals in behavioral health crisis as well as overall public safety,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. “Law enforcement officers should not be asked to also serve as counselors, addiction specialists, or social workers. ARRIVE Together has built a framework for trained professionals to assist law enforcement with intervention and de-escalation techniques to respond to calls and provide proper care for those in need while also protecting public safety.”
“ARRIVE Together is saving lives, plain and simple,” said Rev. Dr. Eric R. Billips, Senior Pastor of North Stelton African Methodist Episcopal Church. “North Stelton is happy to serve as host for this important discussion. As a local pastor in Middlesex County, I am extremely grateful to the Attorney General and his team for leading this transformative effort.”
To learn more about the ARRIVE program and the current models operating across the state, please visit https://www.njoag.gov/programs/arrive-together/.