A federal grant will allow the Fort Smith Police Department to take another step to help those suffering from addiction and mental health issues.
FSPD has received just over $43,000 grant from the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program through the Office of Intergovernmental Services-Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Funding from the grant will help provide on-site services from the Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center and Harbor House Inc., said Aric Mitchell, FSPD public information officer.
The grant will pay salary reimbursements for salary reimbursement, updated computers, a printer, and web cams for the FSPD Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU). The CIU, one of the first of its kind in the state, was formed and went into service in March 2020. Last year, Fort Smith Police responded to 547 suicide-related calls and 236 calls involving overdoses, a news release said.
The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program grant will allow the Guidance Center to provide a qualified behavioral health provider to the unit, who can assist individuals with substance abuse, domestic abuse crises, and mental health issues, the news release said.
Beginning April 26, the providers will partner with the FSPD’s Crisis Intervention Unit to “seek those suffering from addiction and mental health ailments and serve as a bridge to treatment and recovery.” The grant will pay salary reimbursements for time worked with the CIU, Mitchell said, noting that the Guidance Center and Harbor House will pay the employees’ salaries and or benefits.
The Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program, formerly the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program, was developed as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act legislation. Its purpose is “to provide financial and technical assistance to states, units of local government, and Indian tribal governments to develop, implement, or expand comprehensive efforts to identify, respond to, treat, and support those impacted by illicit opioids, stimulants and other drugs of abuse.”
FSPD announced in November it was partnering with Harbor House on a program designed to reduce recidivism, Mitchell said. Dubbed the Fort Smith Pre-Arrest Diversion Program, the new option provides direct access to intervention resources and information to enable FSPD officers “the discretion of diverting individuals who commit eligible minor misdemeanor offenses away from the criminal justice system,” Mitchell said.
By providing direct access to intervention resources and information, FSPAD will give FSPD officers the discretion to divert those who commit eligible minor misdemeanor offenses away from the criminal justice system. It gives those in the program voluntary access to mental health, behavioral health, and substance abuse treatment instead of immediate jail time, Mitchell said.