$75K granted to Salisbury, for new police department mental health collaborative partnership

SALISBURY, Md. – Salisbury is just one of the three cities in the country chosen to get funding to reshape the police department.

A $75,000 Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant will provide first response mental health services alongside police officers.

“We were successful in our grant application and we wrote for a co-responder model which embeds a social worker with police officers responding to calls for service,” Chief Barbara Duncan, with the Salisbury Police Department, said.

“This is the type of the thing that is worth our investment because ultimately it will save lives,” Salisbury Mayor Jake Day said.

We’re told the Salisbury Police Department found that 12 percent of calls for service they ended up responding to were strictly mental health related.

Chief Barbara Duncan said officers may not have all the resources to assist in the best way possible.

” Having a mental health crisis or being a consumer of mental health services is not a crime, should not be treated like a crime, yet we typically respond to these calls for service, which puts everybody at a disadvantage,” Chief Duncan said.

“They shouldn’t be expected to be subject matter experts in mental health, there are subject matter experts in mental health who need to be partners with the police department,” Mayor Day said.

This new co-responder model could make a difference, as seen in other cities that implemented it.

” You’re seeing less individuals are winding up in our judicial system,” Chief Duncan said. “You’re seeing safer outcomes for officers and for the consumers and you’re seeing the appropriate connectivity to necessary services for these consumers.”

And while there are details that still need to be ironed out before the program starts, city leaders hope this program will grow and truly create positive change.

“I think the details are yet to be determined, but I don’t only hope it expands, I know it will expand,” Mayor Day said.

Categories: Local News, Maryland