Singleton Bill Forming Crisis Support Pilot Program Advances

Goal is to lower instances of unnecessary force when someone is suffering from a mental health crisis

TRENTON, NJ  In an effort to ensure that individuals experiencing a mental health crisis are receiving adequate care, the State Senate on Wednesday unanimously advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton and Senator Richard Codey that would establish a three-year Crisis Response Support Pilot Program.

“Collaboration between police officers and mental health professionals is beneficial for everyone involved – law enforcement, communities and residents alike,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington), who represents Mount Laurel in the Legislature. “By establishing this pilot program, it is our hope that there will be fewer instances of unnecessary force when residents are suffering from a mental health crisis.”

The bill, S-722/785, would establish the Crisis Response Support Pilot Program to provide ongoing services and support to certain individuals who are the subject of a request for emergency services.

Under the bill, the Attorney General would select two municipalities in each of the northern, central, and southern regions of the State for participation in the pilot program. The chief administrative officer or governing body of a pilot municipality would be required to appoint a crisis response coordinator who is responsible to provide ongoing support and services to individuals in crisis and suicidal or suffering from a mental health condition or substance use disorder.

“Two out of every three uses of force by law enforcement involve a resident who is suffering from a mental illness or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and over half of all fatal police encounters occur under similar circumstances,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex/Morris). “There is no reason why residents who are going through times of mental health crisis should be victims in these scenarios. Police officers are clearly not equipped to deal with these situations, and it is imperative that law enforcement has access to mental health professionals when responding to these incidents so that we can reduce unnecessary violence and help our residents receive the treatment they need.”

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