Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced that $746,562 has been awarded to emergency service providers in Cumberland, Knox, and Waldo counties to enhance their ability to safely respond to mental health crises. The funding will also help to divert more mental health calls to the appropriate service providers. This funding was awarded through the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Connect and Protect: Law Enforcement Behavioral Health Response Program.
“When Mainers experience a mental health crisis, it’s important they can get quality and efficient assistance. Too often the only option available is to call 911 – this creates a missed opportunity to connect these individuals with long-term treatment services, and it puts unnecessary strain on law enforcement officers who are overwhelmed with calls and may not have the appropriate training for these types of situations,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “We welcome this important funding, which will help local law enforcement agencies to do their jobs more effectively, strengthen resources for individuals with mental health or substance use disorders, and promote public safety.”
$203,319 will help the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office address a dramatic increase in mental health-related services, which have risen from 220 calls in 2019 to 648 calls in 2021. A significant number of these calls are for repeat subjects, thus putting a significant strain on the resources of the agency to answer routine calls for service. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office believes that an embedded mental health professional would provide targeted assistance to persons with mental health disorders by directing the individuals to local resources.
$543,243 will help support ongoing efforts in Knox and Waldo counties to reduce encounters between law enforcement officers and those suffering with behavioral health issues. The funding will be used to expand the Co-occurring Community Connection (CCC) Project, which promotes effective strategies to identify and reduce the risk of harm to individuals with mental health and substance use disorders, propose interventions that have been shown to reduce recidivism, and improve access to treatment services.