Unit History

Mental Health Unit History

The  Mental Health Unit received the Justice in Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) grant in October of 2017. This grant led to the creation of The Police Connection Alliance(PCA) in March 2018 .  The Division of Police partnered with Connection Community Support Inc to develop a co-responder unit. A clinical licensed social worker was partnered with a Crisis Intervention Team (C.I.T.) trained officer to responded to 911 call for individuals in a mental health crisis.  Once the grant expired the Division of Police sought other means of funding to support the licensed clinician position and in the interim utilized interns from Widener University Master’s in Social Work program to assist through ride-alongs.   State Representative Valerie Longhurst learned of the program and began funding the licensed social worker position which allowed the Division of Police to hire a full time Mental Health Professional and she continues to fund this position to today.  In October 2019  the Mental Health Unit received a JMHCP expansion grant.  This grant allowed for the unit to expand by bringing on a second Mental Health Professional with supervisory experience, a second C.I.T. trained officer as well as a case manager.  The Division of Police partnered with ChristianaCare to fill these positions and they were hired and staffed as of November 2020.  

The goal of the unit is to help de-escalate individuals on  scene and to keep individuals in the community by avoiding arrest and unnecessary hospitalization.   This is accomplished  by connecting individuals with behavioral health services to help support their mental health and wellbeing in the community. The unit provides training in the police academy and through roll calls on mental health de-escalation, Autism awareness, and trauma informed response to crisis. The unit also assists with training for the community as well as our partners in the mental health field.  In 2019 the Mental Health Unit received the Biden Award for Innovation in Law Enforcement from the Delaware Criminal Justice Council.  

Throughout the growth and expansion the unit has maintained the same goal: treat people with mental illness with understanding, respect, and provide supportive solutions to individuals in a crisis. 

Hero Help Unit History

The HERO HELP Addiction Assistance Program was implemented in May 2016 and is a collaboration between the New Castle County Division of Police, the Delaware Department of Justice and the State Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health to provide drug and/or alcohol addiction treatment to qualifying adults who contact the police and ask for treatment, or to individuals in lieu of an immediate arrest for lesser crimes. The goal of the HERO HELP program is to not depend on criminal arrests alone to combat addiction and the crime it causes. 

In 2017 the HERO HELP program received a grant from the University of Baltimore that created a full-time civilian coordinator position as well as provided funds for advertising.  The coordinator position allowed for expansion of services to include outreach for non-fatal overdoses as well as on going case management to improve outcomes.  With data collected and analyzed by the University of Delaware Center for Drug and Health Studies it was readily apparent that this full-time coordinator position had a profound impact on the number of participants as well as the long-term success.  Based upon this data the HERO HELP Coordinator position was funded by New Castle County in 2019 and a part-time case manager position soon followed.  

In October 2019 the HERO HELP program was awarded federal grant funding through the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Delaware Criminal Justice Council.  This funding allowed for both the HERO HELP program and the New Castle County Division of Police Mental Health Unit to join forces and form the first Behavioral Health Unit in the State of Delaware.  ChristianaCare was awarded the bid to staff four new positions within the HERO HELP program to include; full-time Case Manager, Nurse, Mental Health Professional and Child Advocate.  These positions were hired and fully staffed as of November 2020.

Over the years HERO HELP has evolved  and grown.  The program is designed to promote positive health outcomes for individuals and their families through case management by a multi-disciplinary support team comprised of law enforcement and healthcare professionals. Program participants are triaged to an appropriate level of care, regardless of their insurance status, and resource referrals are made to address life challenges such as housing, education and employment. Progress is documented through weekly treatment reports from the service providers and legal advocacy is offered, when relevant, for those who are following  program expectations. Through this process, barriers to healthcare are eliminated, accountability is established and there is hope for a brighter future.

The New Castle County Police Department HERO HELP Program is officially designated as a Delaware Community-Based Naloxone Access Program (CBNAP). This designation allows HERO HELP to train individuals in the safe use and storage of naloxone and provide a free NARCAN kit.