August 8, 2022
Stafford Township, NJ – Today, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representative Andy Kim (D-NJ-03) joined the Stafford Police Department, Bright Harbor Health Care, and seven area police departments to highlight the On P.O.I.N.T. program, which provides on-site social workers for police departments to address the high volume of mental health, substance abuse, and social service-related calls and incidents that police receive. Booker and Kim secured $32,000 in congressionally directed funding to expand the On P.O.I.N.T. program this year.
Since its establishment in 2016, On P.O.I.N.T. has expanded to include nine total police departments. The program provides early intervention by diverting individuals experiencing mental health crises from the criminal justice system into the appropriate health care system. During the meeting, Booker and Kim discussed the challenges that police departments and medical providers have faced while responding to these incidents and the success of the innovative program.
“As law enforcement officers have often told me, police departments are overburdened responding to distressful calls that involve issues related to mental illness, addiction, or poverty,” said Sen. Booker. “Appropriately addressing these challenges requires the expertise of social workers, medical professionals, and mental health experts. With the On P.O.I.N.T program, police departments are receiving the support they need to help the most vulnerable. I am proud to have fought alongside Rep. Any Kim for funding to expand this vital initiative and was grateful to hear from stakeholders today about their experiences implementing and using the program.”
“Our police officers are the first ones to answer the call when we are in danger and it’s up to us to make sure they have the resources they need to continue doing this important work,” said Congressman Andy Kim. “I’m proud to have worked with Senator Booker to secure funding for Stafford Police Department to expand their successful and innovative On P.O.I.N.T. partnership with Bright Harbor Healthcare to include Barnegat Police Department. Together, our local police and mental health professionals are improving outcomes, reducing violence, having safer interactions, and improving community relations.”
“There has been a gap between how law enforcement and the mental health and substance use treatment systems have interacted with each other—we both try to help the same community members, however we have often not communicated with each other or worked in concert,” said Meghan Corrigan, co-creator of the On P.O.I.N.T. at Bright Harbor Healthcare. “The On P.O.I.N.T. program was intentionally designed to address the gap between law enforcement’s initial observation and triage of a crisis to long term treatment and support to resolve the underlying cause of the crisis.”
“I thank both Senator Booker and Congressman Kim for their continued support of the On P.O.I.N.T. program,” said Thomas Dellane, Stafford Township Police Chief. “Their advocacy on behalf of the program has enabled On P.O.I.N.T. staff to effectuate positive change in many people’s lives thereby improving the mental and physical health of communities that On P.O.I.N.T. serves.”
Today’s event was part of Booker’s 2022 Jersey Summer Road Trip, a series of stops highlighting the priorities he continues to fight for in the U.S. Senate on behalf of the state’s residents. The road trip will focus on Booker’s ongoing commitment to serving New Jersey’s veterans, his efforts to secure congressionally directed spending for critical New Jersey projects and organizations, and his support of local businesses and industries, and much more.