Winthrop Police Department Implements Mental Health and Substance Use Policies as Part of One Mind Pledge

IACP Project Manager Michael Fergus and Winthrop Police Sgt. Sarko Gergerian. (Courtesy Photo)
IACP Project Manager Michael Fergus and Winthrop Police Sgt. Sarko Gergerian. (Courtesy Photo)

Chief Terence Delehanty is pleased to announce that the Winthrop Police Department joined the One Mind Campaign earlier this year, and that the department became a pledge compliant agency over the summer.

The One Mind Pledge is an effort to improve law enforcement interactions with those affected by mental illness.

Chief Delehanty took the pledge on behalf of his department in February, and the Winthrop Police Department earned compliance status on July 1.

The One Mind Campaign seeks to ensure successful interactions between police officers and persons affected by mental illness. To join the campaign, law enforcement agencies must commit to implementing four critical practices over a 12–36-month time frame.

They are:

  • Establish a clearly defined and sustainable partnership with one or more community mental health organization(s)
  • Develop and implement a model policy addressing police response to persons affected by mental illness
  • Train and certify 100 percent of the department’s sworn officers (and selected non-sworn staff, such as dispatchers) in Mental Health First Aid
  • Provide Crisis Intervention Team training to a minimum of 20 percent of sworn officers (and selected non-sworn staff, such as dispatchers)

The Winthrop Police Department has partnered with the Boston Medical Center, developed two policies related to mental health and substance use response, and trained and certified all officers in Mental Health First Aid and the 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team training.

Winthrop Police's NARCAN Policy ensures rapid deployment of the life saving medicine to keep people alive so they may discover recovery following an overdose event.

The department's Recovery Team Deployment Policy, which is the first of its kind, was shared with the International Association of Chiefs of Police. It forges a connection between the police department with the health department to address mental health and substance use challenges in an evidence based, holistic and comprehensive manner before, during and after emergency services are rendered.

"These policies combine to provide immediate lifesaving assistance to members of our community who are affected by mental health or substance use challenges," Chief Delehanty said. "Honoring the One Mind Pledge ensures that we're providing an all-encompassing and modern policing model that's responsive and respectful of the needs of the people we serve."

The creation of a Crisis Intervention Team is an especially important milestone for police departments, as it provides officers vital skills, including verbal de-escalation, scenario-based training and personal interactions with mental health professionals. Officers also learn from people who have experienced and recovered from mental health crises, as well as family members who have likewise been affected by mental illness.

According to the World Health Organization, one in four people will be affected by a mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lives. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that nearly half of Americans suffering from a disorder do so untreated. Such disorders, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.