Wallkill police tout early success of its mental health response team

In late July, the department announced a new partnership with Orange County Mobile Mental Health to embed a pair of social workers within the police department when responding to calls involving mental health.

Jonathan Gordon

Oct 5, 2023, 11:27 PM

Updated 199 days ago

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Town of Wallkill Police Chief Robert Hertman said the department's newly launched Mobile Response Team has worked out "even better than he had imagined," in just the first two months.
In late July, the department announced a new partnership with Orange County Mobile Mental Health to embed a pair of social workers within the police department when responding to calls involving mental health.
The new MRT has responded to more than 100 calls in just the first two months, according to Hertman.
"In many cases, a person doesn't want to speak to a police officer where they're suffering from a mental health crisis, they feel more comfortable speaking to a mental health professional," said Town of Wallkill Police Chief Robert Hertman.
Laura Altieri, with Access: Supports for Living, an organization that provides a wide range of services to people dealing with challenges, including counseling and housing, said calls for social workers with the police department are up.
"We can have more time to engage, stabilize the situation, and make those connections that they need in the community," said Laura Altieri, the director of mobile response services at Access: Supports For Living.
Altieri hopes to expand the number of hours social workers are paired with officers and eventually bring the program to other police departments in Orange County if the pilot continues to be a success.
On Thursday night, Oct. 5, the town police department is holding a community forum to discuss the MRT's early success and other topics surrounding mental health.
This is the third forum in the last three years with prior ones covering issues including a local uptick in crime and domestic violence.


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