City of Poughkeepsie Police Reform » Police Reform & Reinvention Collaborative Plan » City of Poughkeepsie Police Form Partnership With Mental Health of America of Dutchess County

City of Poughkeepsie Police Form Partnership With Mental Health of America of Dutchess County

The City of Poughkeepsie and Mental Health America of Dutchess County announced a pilot program today under which a behavioral health professional will partner with a police officer during shifts in order to broaden response services.

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison and Andrew O’Grady, chief executive officer of Mental Health America, said this partnership will bring a significant benefit to the community.

“We recognize that our police officers respond to more than just reports of criminal activity,” said Mayor Rolison. “They are first responders who have to answer all sorts of calls, and many of them involve mental-health issues.”

The Mayor praised City Administrator Marc Nelson for bringing the idea forward.

 “This partnership with Mental Health America of Dutchess County will improve outcomes and provide a gateway to non-police services and help where it is needed, in real time,” said Nelson.  “The program will utilize non-personally identifiable data to actually measure community benefit. The whole idea is to address root problems in order to avoid a cycle of failure that often occurs when people are arrested and incarcerated.”

“We are excited to take this bold step with the City of Poughkeepsie,” said O’Grady. “We believe such alliances are going to grow, as communities look for more comprehensive approaches to how police officers handle cases involving mental illness and drug addiction.”

This partnership augments another one the city created with Dutchess County. Launched in October 2017, the Behavioral Evaluation & Assistance Team (BEAT) is a joint venture between City Police and the Dutchess County’s Department of Behavioral & Community Health. As a result, the city has significantly increased the number of personal interactions with individuals and have rendered more assistance.

“Our department continues to embrace ways to serve the public, to provide safety but also to provide assistance for those who need it,” said Police Chief Tom Pape.

An Intensive Case Manager from Mental Health America will work under the Police Department’s Juvenile Division and will work closely with the BEAT team as well as the Police Department’s Juvenile Division Youth Worker to meet the needs of children and their parents who may be experiencing mental-health-related illnesses. MHA’s social worker also will be able to provide or offer referrals for follow-up services.

Mayor Rolison said he plans to use existing police funds to launch the program at the end of this month and will include more monies for it in his 2021 budget proposal to the Common Council.