"Arrive Together" Program Creates Safer Law Enforcement Responses for Mental Health Crises

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | May 10, 2024 | 0 Comments

Police responses to calls regarding someone experiencing a mental health or behavioral crisis can be among the most unpredictable and dangerous for the person in crisis. Quite often, the person's erratic behavior can be misunderstood by police, sometimes resulting in the shooting or killing of the suspect. However, the initial results of a new program being implemented in New Jersey offer some promise toward mitigating the often volatile interactions between police officers and individuals experiencing mental health crises. The New Jersey Monitor reports that recent documentation released by the state Attorney General's Office shows that the "Arrive Together" program has marked a significant reduction in the use of force and police shootings involving erratic suspects. 

If you are dealing with challenging family law issues in New Jersey, the Lento Law Firm Family Law Team can help. Call 888-535-3686 for an appointment or use our online form

The Arrive Together Program 

Launched in Cumberland County in December 2021 and now operational across all 21 counties, the Arrive Together program pairs a community-based mental health counselor with a plainclothes police officer in an unmarked car to respond to certain mental or behavioral health calls. This initiative is part of a broader effort to defuse potentially dangerous situations as people in mental crisis or with untreated serious mental illness are disproportionately likely to interact with law enforcement and, tragically, be killed in these encounters. With at least a quarter of fatal police encounters involving individuals with mental illness, the "Arrive Together" program shows early signs of being a vital intervention in a longstanding issue of public health and safety. 

This nuanced approach to law enforcement, where empathy and understanding are wielded alongside authority, signals a transformative shift in how mental health crises are addressed within the community. By integrating mental health professionals into the response teams, the program ensures that individuals receive the appropriate care and intervention, reducing the likelihood of violence and fostering a safer environment for both the community and law enforcement officers. 

An Alternative Approach for People in Crisis 

Reports released documenting the program in two counties show that the cases addressed by Arrive Together cover a wide range of crises, including mental breakdowns, substance abuse, and domestic disputes. Teams have responded to calls about suicidal teenagers, homeless people, disputes between neighbors, and many others. A particularly poignant aspect of the program's impact is observed in its handling of behavioral health calls involving parents distraught over child custody disputes. Such scenarios, fraught with emotional tension, have historically posed challenges for law enforcement officers, often escalating to heightened states of conflict. However, the "Arrive Together" program has demonstrated a remarkable ability to diffuse this tension, offering a calmer, more measured response that prioritizes the well-being of all involved parties. 

For families embroiled in emotional child custody disputes, the tension and distress can feel insurmountable. Recognizing the need for a calm and constructive resolution, the Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm is adept at navigating the complexities of family law, ensuring that your child custody issues are resolved favorably and with the utmost care for all involved. If you are facing difficult child custody challenges or other family law issues in New Jersey, we can help. Call 888-535-3686 for an appointment or use our online form

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings! He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


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