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Tom Zuppa

STOW – Chief Michael Sallese is pleased to announce that the Stow Police Department is partnering with the Harvard Police Department and Advocates to begin a Jail Diversion Program, which will connect those with mental-health or substance misuse issues to needed services.

An Advocates clinician will be available to the Departments as a co-first responder, accompanying officers on a range of calls including wellbeing checks; large-scale events; and calls involving populations in crisis, such as seniors, veterans, and children in need of support.

The clinician will follow up on cases, referring those in need to treatment providers and services as needed. Department personnel can make a referral to the JDP clinician to follow up on a case or situation that they deem necessary.

“Our officers are responding to an increasing number of situations involving mental health and substance misuse,” Chief Sallese said. “Through Jail Diversion, we will be able to address the key issues behind many of these calls more completely. We will be better prepared to ensure a safe outcome, and help those in crisis obtain needed assistance rather than entry into the criminal justice system.”

The Stow Police Department’s goal is to expand to a standalone Jail Diversion Program with a fulltime civilian clinician.

Advocates provides co-response services to 18 police departments west of Boston. In 2021, its clinicians intervened in 4,818 cases, and successfully diverted 299 individuals from the criminal justice system.

“Advocates first began co-response with Framingham Police in 2003 and is eager to roll out the Stow/Harvard program. Providing crisis support alongside police partners allows for improved outcomes and connection to supports,” said Taylor Hayden, an Advocates Jail Diversion Supervisor assigned to the Stow/Harvard Jail Diversion Program. “The goal in having a clinician embedded within the department is to offer an additional tool for officers to use during related calls for service.”

John Guilfoil Public Relations