Boston Police To Hire Mental Health Clinicians In New Budget Proposal

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Boston Police Department is hoping to hire more than a dozen more mental health counselors in an effort to assist police officers in areas that don't necessarily require law enforcement.

According to Boston City Councillor-at-large Annissa Essaibi-George, as part of the City's resubmitted Fiscal Year 2021 budget, funds are available for BPD to hire 15 masters-level mental health clinicians.

"I think it's really the beginning of creating a system of care and a system of response that our residents need," she said. "The response shouldn't be a pipeline into the criminal justice system."

For years, BPD has had only four mental health clinicians on staff. The 15 new hires will be tasked with helping answer the city's roughly 10,000 non-violent and mental health related 911 calls per year.

"A highly qualified master-level social worker can direct an individual into the services they need," Essaibi-George said. "Whether it's hooking a person up with a primary care doctor, whether its finding ongoing therapeutic services, whether it's housing, clinicians are qualified to support residents in that way."

Councillor Essaibi-George said the money to hire the clinicians will come from funds reallocated from the police overtime budget, and she said BPD is completely on board.

WBZ NewsRadio's Shari Small reports:

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(Photo: WBZ NewsRadio)

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