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Department of Justice Awards More Than $44 Million to Support Behavioral Health-Driven Approaches to Community Crises
WASHINGTON ― The Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs today announced grant awards totaling more than $44 million to help communities address crises involving homelessness, mental health and substance use disorders and other public health and public safety emergencies. The grants will support partnerships between justice system officials, health, mental health and substance use professionals, and community providers to reduce arrests, divert individuals from the justice system and deliver the appropriate treatment and other support services to those in need.
“Cities have come to rely on the justice system as the default response to addressing what are often behavioral health, not public safety, crises,” said OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon. “Communities across the country are testing innovative co-responder and community responder models that address underlying behavioral health issues and improve outcomes while also steering people away from the justice system. We are proud to support these promising and innovative approaches.”
Law enforcement officers are often first on the scene of a community emergency, whether the crisis is an overdose or an episode of psychiatric distress, but they often have neither the training nor the tools to respond appropriately. Many cities have begun to institute co-responder and/or community responder models in which treatment providers and other health professionals are dispatched alongside or separately from law enforcement. These strategies lift some of the burden off of law enforcement, expand treatment options for those in need and help limit exposure to the justice system.
“The burden of responding to community crises has always rested heavily on the shoulders of law enforcement professionals, but many of these emergencies—whether they are related to substance use or a mental health crisis—demand the attention of trained behavioral health specialists,” said Karhlton F. Moore, Director of OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. “These calls for service are more than law-and-order matters—they are opportunities for intervention, treatment and the improvement of public health and safety. The resources we are making available today will bring law enforcement, health professionals and community partners together to find solutions that benefit the individual, their families and society at large.”
The grants announced today demonstrate the Department’s focus on addressing the needs of individuals with mental health and co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders and build on more than $340 million in new investments this year to fight the opioid and stimulant crisis and address substance use disorders through prevention and diversion efforts such as drug court and mentoring initiatives, correctional substance use treatment programs and other efforts to address the treatment and recovery needs of those affected by substance use disorders from pre-trial to reentry.
Below is a summary of funding tailored to support community crisis response efforts. Descriptions of individual awards can be found by clinking on the links.
- BJA is awarding $15.4 million under its Connect and Protect: Law Enforcement Behavioral Health Response Program, which supports a law enforcement-behavioral health cross-system collaboration to improve public safety for individuals with mental health or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders who come in contact with the justice system.
- BJA is awarding $12.9 million under its Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program, which supports public safety efforts through partnerships with social service and other organizations to enhance responses to individuals with mental health or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.
- BJA is awarding $9.2 million under its National Initiatives in Justice and Mental Health: Training and Technical Assistance for Grantees and the Field, which provides site-based training for both grantees and the field at large to develop the capacity to meet community behavioral health needs.
- BJA is awarding $4.2 million under the Collaborative Crisis Response and Intervention Training Program, which supports training to prepare law enforcement and correctional officers to appropriately interact with people who have mental health or substance use disorders or disabilities.
- BJA is awarding $2.5 million under the Kevin and Avonte Program: Reducing Injury and Death of Missing Individuals with Dementia and Developmental Disabilities, which provides funding to reduce the number of deaths and injuries of individuals with forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, or developmental disabilities such as autism, who, due to their condition, wander from safe environments.
The awards announced above are being made as part of the regular end-of-fiscal year cycle. More information about these and other OJP awards can be found on the OJP Grant Awards Page.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.
CONTACT: Tannyr Watkins at 202-532-3923 or [email protected]