The following is a press release issued by the Fort Bragg Police Department
The Fort Bragg Police Department for several years has received emergency calls involving individuals living with mental illnesses, an estimated 60% increase. These types of calls are time consuming, with a department who has been working with limited personnel, this draws from pro-active enforcement.
In October of 2021, Captain O’Neal drafted a plan for the Fort Bragg Police Department to deploy social workers to address service calls that require assistance from professionals educated in mental health illnesses. In the plan, the social workers would also act as caseworkers to assist with court appearances and navigate the social services programs available. The purpose of the plan is to provide additional support to our Police Department, assistance would also assist with the Emergency Winter Shelter in which the police department is currently handling as well as the future Respite Center. As with development of any program funding is always a setback.
In December of 2021, the police department learned of a funding grant for this type of program we were seeking. With assistance from city of Fort Bragg Grant Coordinator, Nancy Bond, she began the task to apply for this funding through the California Department of Health Care Services’ Behavioral Health Justice Intervention Services (BHJIS) program. The BHJIS program offers public and private agencies funding to prevent individuals living with mental health illnesses from entering and remaining in the criminal justice system.
In February 2022 the Fort Bragg Police Department was notified by the BHJIS program that the requested funding was awarded to the department to establish this program. The funding received is allotted to cover the salaries of two social workers and the purchase of a response vehicle.
The department is currently identifying internal staff members to assist Captain O’Neal with developing and implementing the hiring process for two social workers, who will work from the police department as well as respond to calls for service with officers.
The Police Department would like to thank Mayor Bernie Norvell, Councilperson Lindy Peters, and a special thanks to Nancy Bond who spent numerous hours with research and drafted a grant in which we have been awarded. This Grant award was a team effort by all. We look forward to implementing this program so that proper professional aid can be provided to those in need.
Questions regarding this program may be directed to Captain O’Neal at email@example.com