By: Najla Alexander
NJ AG authorities announced that the City of Paterson, New Jersey’s third largest city, will be the first municipality in Passaic County to participate in the Alternative Responses to Reduce Instances of Violence and Escalation (ARRIVE) Together program.
Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said ARRIVE began in December 2021 as a co-response program with the New Jersey State Police in Cumberland County in partnership with the Cumberland County Guidance Center.Officials said the program paired a plainclothes New Jersey state trooper with a mental health screener in an unmarked vehicle to respond to 911 calls relating to mental and behavioral health emergencies.
According to officials, today, ARRIVE includes several models operating across the state, with the model used in each community tailored to each community’s unique needs and resources.
After input from law enforcement officials, mental health providers, and community leaders, Paterson’s pilot model is three-fold, officials say.
Officials said when Paterson Police officers interact with individuals who would benefit from mental health resources and support, they will refer these individuals to CBH Care for care.
Authorities say CBH Care is a non-profit healthcare provider that provides community-based mental and behavioral health services in Northern New Jersey.
Clinicians from CBH Care will follow up with the individual, without law enforcement, to ensure residents receive access to mental health and other support services, officials stated.
According to officials, New Jersey Transit Police and CBH Care will conduct affirmative outreach at the Paterson Bus Terminal and provide mental health resources and support to those in the bus terminal who need them.
Officials say a clinician from CBH Care will work with emergency dispatchers in Paterson to share best practices and gather information about the types of calls that go to the dispatch center with the goal of developing a mental health alternative response program—a program that does not involve law enforcement—for appropriate calls coming through the 911 system.
“The Paterson Police Department, led by Officer in Charge Isa Abbassi, is in the midst of a remarkable transformation designed to improve public safety and its service to the people of Paterson,” said Attorney General Platkin.
“Implementing the ARRIVE program is the latest step in this effort to better serve the city’s residents by making much-needed care available to those experiencing mental health emergencies. We thank Governor Murphy and the Legislature for their continued support of this innovative public safety program.”
Authorotoes say the partnership between the Paterson Police Department, New Jersey Transit, and CBH Care has made ARRIVE available to Paterson’s estimated 160,000 residents.
Since its inception in 2021, ARRIVE has aided New Jerseyans coping with mental and behavioral health emergencies by taking a clinical approach to responding to residents rather than a punitive one, officials said.
As noted in a March 2023 report by The Brookings Institution, officials say, ARRIVE responses have not resulted in arrests, injuries, or uses of force, except, in limited cases, when transporting certain individuals to medical treatment.
Officials said ARRIVE has also increased community utilization of mental health services and is reducing racial disparities across outcomes.Currently, ARRIVE operates in 18 counties and is expected to be operational in all 21 New Jersey counties by the end of this year, making New Jersey the first in the nation to offer an alternative response program statewide, officials stated.
“Mental health response is a collaborative responsibility,” said Paterson Police Department Officer in Charge Issa Abbassi.
“This ARRIVE Together program will allow us to work more closely with qualified mental health providers to offer the best services possible for the people of Paterson.”
“Our NJ Transit police officers are often asked to handle complex situations involving people struggling with mental health emergencies, but now, thanks to our participation in the ARRIVE Together program in Paterson, we can ensure that those individuals quickly receive the mental health care and support they need,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti.
“People who experience a mental health crisis need treatment and support. Having mental health specialists work in partnership with police will help connect people to resources,” said Susan Devlin, Executive Director of CBH Care.
“CBH Care is proud to partner with the City of Paterson on the ARRIVE Together initiative. ARRIVE Together will assist residents experiencing a mental health crisis.”
“Life moves at the speed of relationships. Our faith-based community and law enforcement agencies are working to build a stronger relationship for the people of Paterson. The ARRIVE Together program is another way to connect our police officers with our community and continue building on that foundation,” said Reverend Michael McDuffie, President of the Paterson Police Department Interfaith Clergy Council.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, officials stated.
Those funds support ARRIVE as it grows, officials stated.
As they expand, officials said, ARRIVE is exploring additional models and locations to make the program available to more residents throughout the state.
To learn more about the ARRIVE program and the current models operating across the state, please visit https://www.njoag.gov/programs/arrive-together/.