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Acton police enhance assistance for those with mental illness

The Acton Police Department recently completed several initiatives to enhance its ability to assist people with mental illness.

The department in 2017 agreed to join the One Mind Campaign, a program started by the International Association of Chiefs of Police to improve interactions between law enforcement agencies and individuals with mental illness, according to Acton Police Chief Richard Burrows.

Participating agencies are challenged to implement practices to bolster their own mental health-related programming, training, and procedures, with the help of resources provided by the association.

To fulfill its campaign pledge, Acton Police issued a new policy to guide its officers in responding to incidents involving people with mental illness, established a partnership with a local mental health services agency, and added mental health “first aid” training as part of it annual in-service training for Acton police officers.


Additionally, the department is providing crisis intervention training for all its officers, with nearly half completing it to date.

The department also joined seven other communities and Hanscom Air Force Base in a regional jail diversion program in which a mental clinician assists officers in responding and following up on calls involving people with mental health and substance abuse issues.

This past summer, the department received a certificate of recognition from the International Association of Chiefs of Police marking its fulfillment of the goals of the One Mind Campaign.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.