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May 25 JCT Action on Mental Health

Since 2021 the JCT Public Health and Safety team has been persistently urging Jersey City officials to hire trained outreach workers to go out on emergency calls involving individuals who are experiencing a mental health and/or substance abuse issue.   On May 25, 2024, from 10:30 to 12 noon, Jersey City Together will hold a commemoration service and call for public action on this issue at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 75 Claremont Avenue in Jersey City. 

The team believes that Jersey City officials can and should implement a crisis intervention team to handle such situations, and has a vision for what that would look like and a comprehensive plan to fund it. Members of the committee have been working with several city council members and other city officials focusing on several funding sources: the New Jersey Attorney General’s Arrive Together initiative, the Mental Health and Addiction Services initiative for 988 Mobile Crisis Outreach Response Teams (MCORT), and the Seabrooks-Washington Community Led Crisis Response Act,  recently passed by the New Jersey legislature. This legislation is named in memory of Najee Seabrooks and Drew Washington (a resident of Jersey City) both of whom were experiencing a mental health crisis and died as a result of being shot by law enforcement officers. 

Besides the funding, the Jersey City Crisis Intervention Teams needs to include several key features in order to be effective. There must be cooperation between the JCPD and HHS (Health and Human Services) with a clear memorandum of understanding that highlights how that cooperation would look. A co-response model of mental health professionals and police officers is also necessary to more accurately address a mental health crisis. A follow-up, long term care program will help ensure that clients receive a continuum of care after their crisis has ended. Crisis Intervention Teams should also be integrated with mobile response teams. Community representatives are important to the process of the creation of these Crisis Intervention teams, from RFP to implementation, and there needs to be some level of community oversight in order to record the ongoing results of the program.

Jersey City Together’s Public Health and Safety team  is guardedly optimistic that the city council will vote in favor of a crisis intervention program before May 25, 2024, the 4th anniversary of George Floyd’s death. Please mark your calendars for Saturday, May 25th and RSVP here.  We will hold a Commemoration Service and Call to Action in remembrance of George Floyd, Drew Washington, Najee Seabrooks, and all others who have tragically lost their lives as a result of similar situations with law enforcement. 

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