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Lowell police awarded mental health grant

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The Lowell Police Department has been awarded a $75,000 federal grant by the US Department of Justice to update its policy for responding to mental health-related incidents, according to a statement released by US Representative Niki Tsongas, who backed the department’s application. The funding will be used to create a collaborative, cross-sectional team to design a strategic plan for evaluating and handling incidents involving individuals with mental illness. This team will have representatives from the Lowell police and fire departments, Lahey Health Behavioral Services, UMass Lowell, and other community partners. They will review incident and arrest data, the current policy, and other information before making recommendations for an updated plan. In 2016, more than 20 percent of all medical assistance incidents in Lowell involved individuals with mental illness, a 5 percent increase from 2015.

Brenda J. Buote can be reached at brenda.buote@gmail.com.