PATH Grantee Promotes Partnerships With Police

Learn how a PATH grantee partners with police, peer specialists, and mental health systems to better serve people experiencing homelessness.

SAMHSA’s Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program funds projects nationwide, including the Transitional Living program based in Butler County, Ohio. The program partners with local law enforcement and mental health systems to form a partnership comprised of the following entities: Transitional Living, Inc., Butler County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services Board, and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services via the Ohio PATH Program.

Project staff consist of two full-time and four part-time staff, four of which are peer specialists. Another major strength of Transitional Living is the experience of its leadership. The chief executive officer has worked with Transitional Living for 32 years, with 20 of those years as a PATH provider. The PATH project and community at large are the beneficiaries of her contributions through her consistent presence, influence, efforts, and ability to share her knowledge with team members.

The PATH staff are on call 24/7, which enables them to provide services that are responsive to different places and times of need. Staff members frequent homeless camps and shelters and participate in ride-alongs with law enforcement during the second shift. PATH focuses on outreach, engagement, encouragement, supportive services for education and training, and very intense community involvement. The project strives to educate and involve the community to extend the reach of the eyes and ears of the program.

The project model incorporates components of several evidence-based practices (EBPs) and additional promising practices in order to provide an enhanced service delivery approach. The EBPs most often used by the team include motivational interviewing and the Integrated Dual-Diagnosis Treatment Model. The team provides behavioral health services, staged interventions, assertive outreach, and comprehensive services that provide a long-term approach to treatment. The project team also uses a promising practice called the Hamilton Fairfield Model of Police Training and Intervention Model. This model is built on a partnership between PATH providers and local law enforcement, and includes training and outreach to local courts in the cities of Fairfield, Hamilton, and Middletown, Ohio. The community partnerships also extend to fire departments, churches, local shelters, community agencies, and elected officials.

In 1994, Transitional Living began providing mental health training to local police departments. Today more than 1,000 police officers have been trained. The trainings have focused on knowledge dissemination and skills development. They also address empowering police officers to begin the process of approaching, engaging, and referring clients with mental illness and related challenges to the services they need. An additional value added to the officer training process is the opportunity for a mental health professional to regularly ride with officers. This team approach allows for an important extra level of training and direct professional intervention in crisis situations. Even when the ride-along is not taking place, the project team is available 24/7 to respond to and support officers.

This partnership has resulted in a decrease in arrests and an increase in linking citizens to the appropriate services in a timely manner during crisis conditions. Additionally, there are fewer return calls by officers, thereby decreasing the “revolving door” nature of these responses.

Transitional Living is proud of these collaborations because they are able to effectively advocate for people experiencing homelessness with complex behavioral and medical problems. Often, these people have been ignored through the everyday hustle of technological advances in society.

Learn more about SAMHSA’s PATH program. Access SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

Find information about law enforcement and mental health at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Access more behavioral health and homelessness resources.

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Joyce Dampeer
Last Updated: 04/19/2016