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FRAMINGHAM – In November 2021, Superintendent Andrew Lacey came to Massachusetts from Ireland to conduct a ride along with the Framingham Police to see its jail diversion / co-response model in action, said Framingham Deputy Police Chief Sean Riley.

“He spent time asking questions and getting a first hand look at how we operate with embedded clinicians the past 19 years,”said Deputy Chief Riley.

As a result of that visit, the funding partners, the Irish Research Council and the Policing Authority brought Framingham Police Chief Lester Baker and Deputy Chief Riley to Limerick, Ireland to present on Framingham’s co-response model along with Dr. Sarah Abbott who was instrumental in starting the Framingham program almost 18 years.  

The roundtable symposium event was held on Thursday, April 21, at the Glucksman Library at the University of Limerick in Ireland.

In 2003, Framingham Police and Advocates created the Framingham Jail Diversion program.

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The program was created to respond to police officers’ concerns about calls involving people with mental illness in the community.

Jail Diversion Program clinicians assist the police in responding to these calls, first, by helping to de-escalate individuals who present in psychiatric crisis and second, by providing additional assistance with respect to assessment, referral, and placement.

The program provides police officers immediate access to trained in-house clinicians for on scene responses, follow up care and case consultation.

By providing alternative disposition options for police, these jail diversion clinicians facilitate access to therapeutic placements for people with mental illness who are committing low level offenses versus an arrest.

With input from the jail diversion clinician, police no longer have to shoulder the burden of making decisions without all the relevant information or resources at their disposal.

In 2003, then Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney recognized the program at the state house.

Now, Ireland wants to replicate the program.

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The April 21 event was funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC) and the Policing Authority under the New Foundations awards scheme which brings researchers and community organizations together to collaborate on projects that will have a tangible impact on societal and community issues, according to a press release.

The attendees from Ireland were addressed by Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler TD and Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Niall Collins TD. Superintendent Andrew Lacey who is the implementation team leader for Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) and Community Safety Co-Response Model organized the event as the research awardee with the Irish Research Council.

The Garda (Irish Police) will be conducting a pilot co-response model in the Limerick, Ireland Division with the hope of eventually making the program a country-wide initiative.

“We collaborated and presented with Toronto Police, Police Scotland, as well as Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). We conducted our presentations in the morning followed up by a roundtable discussion,” said Deputy Chief Riley


Photos submitted to SOURCE Media

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.