By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
SHREWSBURY – The Shrewsbury Police Department will soon add a mental health clinician to accompany police officers responding to mental health calls.
That was one of multiple additions described in an annual report by Police Chief Kevin Anderson during a Sept. 28 Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen meeting.
Anderson discussed officer training, campaigns and task forces the department has participated in as well as grants the department has applied for and the hiring process.
“What are you guys doing in your spare time?” joked Selectman Maurice DePalo after Anderson’s presentation. “[This is] tremendous all the stuff that you’re doing. I think it’s great. I commend you for doing it.”
Anderson discussed a number of grants that the department has applied for and been awarded. For example, the department is on the waiting list for a grant with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to install a Motor Vehicle Automated Citation and Crash System.
Officers will be able to swipe a driver’s license through this system. That driver’s information will then be put on a citation, which will be sent electronically.
“Saving paper, saving time and it saves the admin assistant time in typing the reports and putting all that information in,” Anderson said.
The fiscal year 2022 budget includes funding for a mental health clinician. Anderson also said, though, that the department is in the process of applying for a grant to help foot the bill for that new hire, as well as a jail diversion program.
He said the grant would run for three years and pay for both the clinician’s salary and overtime if they have to come in on off hours.
The clinician would co-respond with officers to mental health calls.
“We believe this position is critical in providing our officers and citizens more resources during mental health emergencies from a trained mental health professional,” Anderson said.