Dennis Police Department Creates Mental Health Task Force


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SOUTH DENNIS, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Dennis Police Department is creating a new task force within the department to help provide assistance with cases involving mental health crises.

The new mental health task force consists of four civilian mental health practitioners, the department's family services officer, and five members of the community crisis intervention team. With this new team, the Dennis Police Department hopes to have better resources to respond to a growing number of incidents involving mental health.

One issue in particular the department hopes to tackle with the task force is to help provide more aid for those with substance abuse disorder. Dennis Police Lieutenant Peter Benson told WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe the new task force will allow the department to provide long term help those suffering from addiction.

"Officers on a weekly basis are saving people's lives from overdose by administering Narcan but they just don't have the time to do proper follow up with those people," Benson said. "This is what these civilian practitioners with all their experience and training will be able to do."

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This new task force was made possible thanks to funding from a grant, which allowed for the hire of three outside mental health professionals to join the department's victim services coordinator. The practitioners on the new task force have experience dealing with substance abuse, children with mental health, and jail diversion.

Lynn Carlson is one of the four mental health professionals on the new task force and she said she sees this as an opportunity to help reduce the stigma of issues like addiction.

"I see myself as working a lot with the officers, helping them to perhaps make an increased connection with the individual they're working with," Carlson said.

WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports.

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