By: Yuritza Arroyo
The Union County Prosecutor’s Office is pleased to announce that New Jersey’s highly regarded ARRIVE Together program, which provides compassionate response during 9-1-1 calls involving a mental health crisis, has just been expanded to additional police departments in Union County.
According to officials, the focus of the ARRIVE Together program is to provide individuals in crisis with whatever help they need as quickly and effectively as possible by teaming up a police officer – specifically trained in crisis intervention -- with a civilian-certified mental health screener in order to respond to 9-1-1 calls relating to a mental health crisis.
The officer and crisis worker arrive together.
Both are in plain clothes and arrive at the call in an unmarked police vehicle.
During the encounter, the mental health screener takes the lead.
This focused approach supports the individual facing a mental health crisis and protects the responding officers.
The intention is to get the person in crisis the proper help they need as quickly as possible while also preventing escalation and facilitating any necessary de-escalation.
The ARRIVE Together team also follows up on these specific calls to ensure that the individual is doing well and does not need additional mental health support
“Heart is a core value of the program, as this program humanely gets to the heart of many of the difficulties of responding to calls involving a mental health crisis for both law enforcement and those in crisis,” said Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel.
“This partnership approach enables a quicker response time to get the individual the help they need, rather than having to wait for the later arrival of a mental health screener,” Director of the Pre- Indictment Division Tiffany Wilson, who is also the UCPO Liaison for the ARRIVE Together Program, states.
“It also helps to avoid having this person come in contact with the criminal justice system.”
The Prosecutor said that, since its inception, it is extremely promising that there have been no injuries or escalations associated with any Union County ARRIVE Together calls, specifically because nationally, half of the “Use of Force” reports arise from police responding to these types of calls.
Elizabeth and Linden Police Departments were quick to pilot the program in June of 2022, following its creation and the Office of the Attorney General’s pilot launch in November 2021 in Cumberland County involving a partnership between the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Jersey State Police, who provide local police services in that part of the state.
Elizabeth Police Chief Sacca is optimistic about the benefits of the ARRIVE Together program.
“Since the inception of ARRIVE together program in Elizabeth, in addition to the lack of force and injuries, the department has had great successes in aiding those experiencing homelessness.
This success is not only a benefit for the individuals impacted, but a benefit for the relationship between the police department and the community as a whole.”
The Roselle Park Police Department launched this program in December of 2022, followed by the current launch by the police departments in Clark, Cranford, Plainfield, Scotch Plains, and Westfield, along with the Union County Police Department and the Union County Sheriff's Office, in cooperation with the Union County Board of Commissioners
“The Union County Board of County Commissioners is proud to work with our Prosecutor’s Office on the expansion of the ARRIVE Together program.
Earlier in 2023, I announced a series of initiatives called “Building a Stronger Union County,” in which one of my focuses was on the “Stepping Up to Mental Health” initiative.
This program fits right in line with it,” said Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados.
“Having the extra assistance where police departments are accompanied by mental health professionals when responding to calls involving a person in crisis are especially crucial in today’s climate as we see a rise in mental health cases.
“Union County has led the way for the past two decades in sensitizing our law enforcement officers to the struggles of individuals dealing with the wide spectrum of mental illness,” Prosecutor Daniel said
“We continue to offer law enforcement sensitivity training, including our intensive Crisis Intervention Team Training (CIT) and Autism Spectrum Awareness training, and de-escalation training, such as Integrated Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT),” he said.
“We are committed to partnering with the County community to tackle these tough issues and to engage in honest dialogue with our citizens, with our eye on equality and social justice for all,” he added.
We will be able to help provide more funding to expand this program to municipalities in the County is pleased that to take part in this initiative, and we would like to thank the Attorney General’s office for initiating this program and supporting our local police departments in this effort.”