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The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts

January 31, 2018 - Sudbury Patch - Partnership with police departments
Jail Diversion Program Expanding to Sudbury, Hudson

by Charlene Arsenault
Patch Staff

SUDBURY, MA— Advocates, a provider of services to individuals facing life challenges, on Monday announced the expansion of its pre-arrest, co-responder Jail Diversion Program through a partnership with the Hudson and Sudbury police departments.

According to the announcement, the program provides a full-time clinician to respond alongside police officers to calls involving individuals who are experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis. The clinician, available to Hudson and Sudbury on a rotating basis, will be able to facilitate arrest diversions on the scene through treatment-based alternatives with the aim of reducing costly and unnecessary referrals to hospital emergency departments.

"A master's level clinician who is embedded with police can respond in tandem with law enforcement to crisis situations and provide much-needed services including de-escalation, crisis stabilization, mental health assessment, and coordination with families, as well as on-the-job training for officers," said Diane Gould, president and CEO of Advocates, in a statement. "Since its launch 15 years ago, our co-responder model has been extremely effective in supporting police departments that typically have limited resources and training."

Advocates started the Jail Diversion Program in 2003 at the Framingham Police Department, and replicated the model five years later in Marlborough. The model expanded to Watertown in 2011 and on a regional basis in Ashland, Holliston, Hopkinton and Sherborn in 2015. The clinician for Hudson and Sudbury has been hired and the program is scheduled to launch in late February 2018.

"This Jail Diversion Program clinician will be a vital resource in continuing to improve the way we respond to mental health and substance abuse cases," said Sudbury Police Chief Scott Nix in a statement. "The court system and/or incarceration are not the appropriate solution for everyone, and our goal is connect those who need support with the necessary and relevant treatment programs, rather than introducing them to the criminal justice system. We are excited to bring the program to Sudbury, greatly enhancing our ability to serve our residents in a time of crisis."

The launch of the program in Hudson and Sudbury is being funded in part through a $57,365 grant from the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. The Sudbury Foundation, Our Lady of Fatima Community Outreach Ministry, Intel Corp., Unitarian Church of Marlborough and Hudson, and 577 Main Street LLC also support the program.