Georgetown Police Department Adds Mental Health Clinician To Patrol

Georgetown Police now have an additional resource to enhance their services to the Georgetown community. A mental health clinician began riding with a Georgetown police officer recently, to help determine if someone is in crisis and needs substance use or mental health treatment.

The partnership between the Georgetown Police Department and Connections Community Support Programs began earlier this month. The program is the first of its kind in Sussex County, and comes at a time when some law enforcement agencies nationally are trying to refer people with mental health or substance use disorders to treatment rather than arrest them.

The Georgetown Police-Connections Alliance hopes to do just that, because getting people into treatment is more appropriate, more effective and less expensive than having them enter the criminal justice system.

Elizabeth Romero, director of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, said the partnership will help engage people with Delaware’s system of care and help them live the best lives possible.

“Meeting people where they are and engaging them in treatment for substance use and mental health issues is critical,” Romero said. “The Georgetown Police Partnership with Connections and funded by my division provides an additional gateway to Delaware’s system of care established through the START Initiative. Engaging those in need with a person-centered, high-quality system of care while also meeting their accompanying needs for housing, employment, education, and other wraparound services is the best way to assist them on their road to recovery.”

“The recently established partnership between Georgetown Police and Connections is a tremendous tool for our officers. As we combat the opioid epidemic, the ability to have a resource with immediate presence, expedites the process to get those in crisis the help they need. While saving time is certainly advantageous for our officers, more importantly, providing the best possible route to wellness is even more. The Georgetown Police Department is proud to take a comprehensive approach to keep our community safe by partnering with the Connections Alliance.”, said Georgetown Police Chief R.L. Hughes.

The New Castle County and Smyrna police departments partnered with Connections on similar programs last year. More than 100 people the New Castle County team came into contact with have been assessed for behavioral health services. Connections Director of Criminal Justice and Community Partnerships Amy Kevis said she hopes the Georgetown-Connections Alliance will yield the same results.

“This partnership allows police to effectively respond to a public health emergency with more appropriate tools to help people get the help they need, “ Kevis said. “We’ve known for years that we can’t arrest our way out of these issues, and this partnership creates the mechanism to get people into treatment.”

The Georgetown-Connections partnership is paid for by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

Connections provides a comprehensive array of behavioral health services at more than 100 locations throughout Delaware and in parts of Maryland. The agency has been operating for more than 30 years and provides services to more than 42,000 people each year.

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