New Bill Seeks To Employ Mental Health Professionals At Police Stations

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A bill at the Massachusetts State House seeks to establish a commission to look into employing mental health professionals at police departments.

The bill, sponsored by state reps. Kip Diggs and Paul Tucker, would create an exploratory committee to look into the possibility of employing mental health professionals as full-time employees within police departments to help assist law enforcement with mental health crises.

State rep. Diggs testified about the bill before the joint committee on public safety and homeland security on Monday.

"Something like that needs to be done in every police station," Diggs said. "Chief Sonnabend out of Barnstable asked me to do the same thing and former chief William Gross had that going on in Boston."

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The bill aims to have these full-time mental health professionals assist the police with screening, evaluating, and referring any individuals who may be in a mental health crisis.

Steve Xiarhos, a former police officer, testified in support of the bill at the hearing.

"Mental health issues, it's what the police deal with so much now," Xiarhos said. "Any help to bring in experts is so important."

If passed the commission would consist of members from executive branch departments, a diverse group of lawmakers from the house and senate, and members of police organizations. The commission would submit its findings to the House of Representatives by Dec. 1, 2022.

WBZ's Tim Dunn (@ConsiderMeDunn) reports.

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