An unprecedented Stafford Township collaboration, aimed at driving down unnecessary arrests and ramping up help for drug abusers and people needing psychological attention, wins plaudits from the Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma.

2017 Ambassador Award (Stafford Twp. PD)

Stafford Township Police Department is one of six entities in New Jersey that were given the Council's Ambassador Award on April 20, in recognition of its On-POINT pilot program.

On-POINT pairs police with staffers of Ocean Mental Health Services, and grew in direct response to what Police Chief Thomas Dellane cites as a rising number of service calls relating to mental health, substance abuse and other social services.

Social workers are assigned to police headquarters two days each week. Through the partnership, individuals deemed to be better served by early intervention than arrest are given appropriate attention and direction.

Police say that 80 individuals have been referrred into On-POINT since its inception. They claim that it not only supports results more satisfactory than arrests, possible incarcerations and court proceedings, but eases the strain on acute and emergency services.

"In the six months the program has been in existence we have effected positive change in many people's lives and in fact have saved at least one life," Dellane said in prepared comments. " I salute the men and women of the police department who have embraced this program for their recognition that it is critical we treat all those suffering from mental health issues with dignity and respect regardless of their disability".

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