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More and more front line responders, police officers and community service providers are required to understand how to deal with people who are mentally ill or emotionally disturbed as these people move through the courts of law, and specifically, the criminal justice system. In response to this need, we have provided critical forensic training and community outreach to police officers and other county employees such as those working in the Department of Probation and the county jail.

Crisis Intervention Officer Training
DCMH continues its collaborative training partnership with the White Plains Police Department. Together, DCMH and the White Plains Police Department host Crisis Intervention Officer Training which is provided through the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. This is a program that goes beyond the standard 16 hours of basic recruit training. The collaborative training partnership allows for a total of 40 hours, going further to promote the safety of police and peace officers, people in emotional crisis in the community and community at large. Crisis Invention Training prepares officers to better manage crisis involving people with mental illness. Law enforcement officials also improve their understanding and accessibility of the public mental health system.

Suicide Prevention for Law Enforcement
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among law enforcement professionals. DCMH, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, and the White Plains Police Department developed and provide in-service training to 211 officers throughout Westchester County with the goal of preventing suicide among law enforcement professionals. For more information on the training materials and schedules, contact Mark Giuliano, Program Director, at .

Crisis Intervention Teams
The Department of Community Mental Health collaborates with the City of White Plains Public Safety Department and the City of Yonkers 4th Precinct to operate two Crisis Intervention Teams. The teams consists of police officers with enhanced mental health training and mental health clinicians who respond to calls involving individuals with a mental illness. These calls may be related to psychiatric or substance use crisis in the community and may or may not include criminal activity.

This team of co-responders emerged because individuals with mental illness who become involved in the criminal justice system have been unable to engage in ongoing treatments and services. To improve access, this approach gives the mental health professional team member an opportunity to immediately engage individuals in crises.

Court-Based Initiatives: Jail Diversion
In response to an increased number of individuals entering the criminal justice system, a national phenomenon, DCMH recently spearheaded two jail diversion initiatives. Jail diversion is one component of an evidence-based approach to reducing incarceration of individuals with serious mental illness. The overall model is called Sequential Intercept and DCMH is working to develop each of its critical elements.

Mental Health Alternatives to Incarceration (MHATI)
MHATI provides community services to people with serious mental illnesses by using both intensive and supportive case management. People with serious mental health and those with co-occurring disorders who have been arrested on a misdemeanor or non-violent felony charge may be sentenced to participate in treatment and services under the supervision of the MHATI program.

Westchester County’s Mental Health Court
The Westchester Mental Health Court is a partnership between the Ninth Judicial District, DCMH and the Department of Probation. This problem-solving court provides diversion from the justice system for adults with serious mental illness and co-occurring disorders who are facing non-violent felony charges. Collaboratively, the court and DCMH provide access to needed treatment and services that support recovery and promote public safety. In 2008, 26 people participated in the Westchester Mental Health Court. This represents an increase over 2007 and a potential cost savings of $2 million by preventing incarceration and by providing access to the appropriate level of services.

The Westchester County Re-entry Task Force
This task force, formed in 2007 as a collaboration among the Westchester County District Attorney, DCMH, Social Services, the New York State Division of Parole and other agencies and not for profit organizations, addresses the needs of released felony offenders returning home to Westchester County. The task force refers individuals to needed medical, mental health, substance abuse, educational and vocational services. In addition, DCMH’s Transitional Management program provides services for those with serious mental illness. Data shows that individuals served through the Task Force have lower rates of re-arrest and parole violation than did other Westchester County parolees.

Transitional Management Services
DCMH provides services to people with serious mental illness and co-occurring disorders returning from local and state correctional facilities. Using a cross-system data match between DCMH and the Department of Correction, DCMH identifies and provides services to people returning from the Westchester County Jail and state prison.

Homeless Outreach and Community Placement Team
This joint effort of Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health, Human Development Services of Westchester and CHOICE of New Rochelle works to transition people from the shelters and streets to permanent housing. Most of these individuals have been involved with the criminal justice system. In 2008, the team served a total of 241 individuals. Of this total, 51 individuals received housing. One-hundred and eighty-one (190) continue to get services, but have not yet been able to secure permanent housing.