In June 2021, the Lawrenceville City Council approved a Memorandum of Agreement between the Lawrenceville Police Department and View Point Health Community CARE for Behavioral Health Services. Through this agreement, the Lawrenceville Police Department embedded two behavioral health clinicians into field operations to dispatch with officers on crisis-related calls and to assist individuals in obtaining the necessary services after the crisis conclusion. Together they function as the Community Response Team (CRT), the program is called Project F.I.R.S.T. in reference to “For Intensive Response & Supportive Transitions”, and View Point Health Staff are referred to as FIRST Clinicians.
The program became effective July 1, 2021 and provides the Lawrenceville Police Department with a Police-Mental Health Collaboration (PMHC) co-responder program (Project F.I.R.S.T.) to supplement and enhance its current Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) service delivery model for mental health crisis response. Project F.I.R.S.T. establishes a full scope of behavioral health services to those considered to have behavioral and emotional challenges or drug dependency issues in order to eliminate or limit the need for police officers to respond to those in a mental health crisis and further establishes access to a Mobile Crisis Response Team and provide a Case Management Team for identified individuals. Behavioral Health Services includes comprehensive behavioral health assessments, individual and group counseling, linkage to community resources, and other “as needed” behavioral health services.
“Lawrenceville is the county seat and the central location of multiple facets of healthcare and government entities that play an important role in our mental health crisis response for the entire county,” said Mayor David Still. “If the county jail, medical facilities and treatment facilities in Lawrenceville are unable to assist an individual in a mental health crisis, we want to provide our police department with every resource available to aid in their response. That is what we are called to do as community leaders.”
Currently, the co-responder program has three staff members: one community engagement officer and two behavioral health clinicians. Plans for expansion are in the near future.