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Jail Diversion program aims to assist police as well as communities

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Bonnie Adams
Community Advocate
January 4, 2021

HUDSON/MARLBOROUGH — During a police officer’s shift, he or she may be called to answer a vast array of calls ranging from alleged theft, assault, accidents, or medical crises such as overdoses. Many times, it may also be a call involving domestic abuse or someone experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis. Arresting the person may not be the best answer for either the person, the police department or indeed, society at large. Thanks to an innovative program, the Jail Diversion program, overseen by Advocates, Inc., and run in conjunction with local police departments, pairs of police officers and masters-level trained clinicians who accompany officers on calls involving a mental health or substance related crisis work as a team to support the community. Not only do the clinicians provide de-escalation, but they also offer comfort, crisis stabilization and assessment services. By doing so, the program also helps alleviate the stress of police departments that are already overburdened.

Community partnerships 

Advocates, based in Framingham, is an agency that partners with individuals, families, and communities to provide solutions to life challenges. They work with a diverse client base, of all age groups and situations, and help those with addictions, mental health issues, and those needing family and caregiver support, to name just a few. The Jail Diversion Program (JDP) originated in Framingham almost 18 years ago (2003).  The Marlborough JDP (the second program to exist) launched in 2008.  They have programs in Framingham, Marlborough, Watertown, and Natick with regional programs in Hudson and Sudbury, Ashland, Sherborn, Holliston, and Hopkinton (ASHH), Franklin and Medway and the Boroughs consisting of Westborough, Northborough, and Southborough.

Sheena Mahoney, LICSW is the Co-Response Jail Diversion Program Supervisor and has worked in Marlborough for the past four years, while Taylor Hayden, MA, MCJ, is Co-Response Jail Diversion Clinician, working with Hudson and Sudbury Police.