Jail Diversion program making a difference in Arlington, MA

by | May 25, 2023 | News

Watch our Jail Diversion Clinician, Christina Valeri in ride along with Arlington Police Officer, John Costa and WBZ crew, as they respond to a mental-health related call. Our Jail Diversion program lets the responding clinician pair a patient with more resources tailored to their needs and in turn, frees up hospital beds and waiting rooms and diverts them from jail. Watch the video clip or read the article below:

Arlington program pairs mental health professionals with police officers

By WBZ-News Staff

May 18, 2023 / 11:51 PM / CBS Boston

ARLINGTON – An innovative program in Arlington is embedding mental health professionals with the police department.

The mental health clinicians work for the Edinburg Center, a mental health organization in Bedford that created the program.

“Historically, police officers weren’t the best trained on how to deal with substance abuse or mental health problems and we weren’t really seeing a lot of that,” said Arlington police officer John Costa. He said the number of mental health-related calls have gone up in the ten years he’s been an officer.

When most police departments respond to these types of calls, they can either send the patient home or to a hospital. Statistically, that leads to repeated behavior. This jail diversion program lets the responding clinician pair a patient with more resources tailored to their needs. It also frees up hospital beds and waiting rooms.

“As I have been utilized more, I am going to a wide variety of calls,” said jail diversion clinician Christina Valeri. “So, it could be something that is mental health, or it could be something at school assisting their guidance counselor and our SRO. Or it could be going to a domestic call, and I have to help our domestic violence detective help the victim find other options for living and safety.”

Other police departments in the state have reached out, looking to implement something similar with their officers.