Methuen Police Receive $400K Grant to Create Clinical Community Response Team

METHUEN — CEO Matthew Page-Shelton and Police Chief Scott McNamara are pleased to announce that Front Line and the Methuen Police Department will receive a two-year, $400,000 grant to fund the addition of a clinical co-response clinician with the Methuen Police Department, as well as the creation of a civilian Community Response Team.

The addition of a clinical co-responder and a Community Response Team that can provide urgent psychotherapy services means the Methuen Police Department will soon have a comprehensive mental health program in place throughout the department.

The $400,000, two-year grant comes from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office).

“Methuen Police and Front Line Services understand the need to divert behavioral calls for service away from emergency rooms and criminal justice system by utilizing a clinically trained team that can meet the needs of the community,” said CEO Page-Shelton. “We are extremely grateful for this grant funding, which will provide us with a pathway to do far more to meet community needs.”

Methuen Police and Front Line Services will use this grant funding to provide access to a master’s level trained clinician and Community Response Team that will provide direct support to the community through crisis response and post-crisis outreach.

The goals of this project are to decrease the behavioral health calls for services responded to by law enforcement alone, to decrease unnecessary emergency room visits and criminal arrests, to increase connections to outpatient supports, increase initial engagement in cross-over/bridge supports post-crisis, and to increase equitable access through providing culturally and linguistically competent services to the community.

“This grant is a big deal for us, as it will enable us to create a comprehensive Mental Health Division within the Methuen Police Department, and to add a master’s level trained clinician to work with those in our community who experience crises,” said Chief McNamara.

“This will be a major improvement in our ability to compassionately and effectively deal with increasing numbers of mental health calls, all while providing services that can help reduce such calls for service by getting those in need connected with community resources.”

The grant funding comes in addition to a $550,000 Justice Mental Health Collaborative Partnership grant from the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance that will also help to fund the creation of the community response team, and which will fund the creation of a community support center in Methuen to bolster behavioral health services to those within the community.

The Community Support Center will provide Methuen Police a place where officers can refer individuals who are suffering from substance use or other behavioral health challenges for follow up care that includes post-crisis outreach, and supports that include peer support, benefits support, social determinants support, and therapy. It is expected to be opened by October of 2024.

The co-response clinician and Community Response Team are expected to be working by early 2024, with additional programming and resources rolling out over the next year.