POLICE AND MENTAL HEALTH CIVILIAN ADVOCATES

By Bob Katzen

The Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security will hold a virtual hearing on January 26 on legislation that would allow cities and towns to opt to have mental health civilian advocates accompany police and other law enforcement personnel on mental health-related calls to respond to non-violent or behavioral health-related situations.

The city or town would determine the minimum qualifications for a civilian mental health advocate.

“As a former police officer with five decades of service to the town and citizens of Yarmouth, I know firsthand how important it is for our police officers to have all of the tools and training necessary to be successful and safe,” said Rep. Steven Xiarhos (R-Barnstable), the sponsor of the measure. “The addition of a professional behavioral health counselor to respond to and follow-up on emergency calls is one of these tools that can help lead to safer communities and a safer commonwealth by supporting our mental health needs.”

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