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HCRS Police Social Work Program Expands to VT State Police

HCRS has partnered with the Vermont State Police in order to further assist individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.

Our Police Social Work program has embedded a Police Liaison within the Vermont State Police Westminster Barracks, as a mobile crisis responder. The Police Liaison will provide supports for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis or those with complex needs to access essential services such as mental health, substance abuse, and other support resources. HCRS’ Adult Services Division Director, Kate Lamphere, states, “Last year, HCRS mobile crisis responders saw 392 individuals across Windsor and Windham Counties. Staff saw another 1534 individuals in hospital emergency rooms. By increasing the capacity to see people in the community through co-response with law enforcement, HCRS will be meeting people where they are at, ensuring that they receive the supports they need when they need them.”

Through the immediate assistance of the Police Liaison, this partnership will help to reduce unnecessary hospital emergency room visits and help break cycles of repeated involvement with law enforcement. According to the Vermont State Police Westminster Barrack’s Station Commander, Lt. Anthony French, “The Westminster Barracks serves 26 towns including over 1200 square miles in southeastern Vermont. Serving a large rural area creates challenges in best addressing mental health emergencies. These are areas where people don’t have access to services as easily. Immediately responding with a Police Liaison will improve the ability to more effectively and safely interact with persons having a mental health crisis.”

HCRS has rehired Christine Bullard for the Police Liaison role at the Westminster Barracks. Bullard worked for the mental health agency from 2012 to 2015 during which time she was the Police Liaison for first the Springfield Police Department and then the Bellows Falls Police Department. George Karabakakis, Ph.D., HCRS CEO states, “We are fortunate to have such a dedicated and skilled staff person return to the organization, ready to support the Vermont State Police.”

HCRS developed its innovative Police Social Work Program in 2003 in Bellows Falls. The agency currently has Police Liaison’s working with the Hartford, Windsor, Springfield, Bellows Falls, and Brattleboro Police Departments. The Police Social Work Program has been very successful and has been honored by the Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Human Services, cited as a model program by the Act 80 Law Enforcement Advisory Board, recommended by the statewide Incarcerated Women’s Initiative Report, received a Special Recognition Award from the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill in Vermont, and has been replicated in other regions of Vermont.