The Bridgeway View

Editor Cory Storch, CEO

First and foremost, we want to offer our condolences to Walter Wallace Jr.’s family.  Our sisters and brothers in Philadelphia have endured another American tragedy on their streets. Our hearts break seeing another senseless death of a person of color who was also known to need mental health care.  These incidences are happening too often and lead to questions about the hiring and training practices that do not seem to reduce the number of tragedies we hear about on our news platforms.

The Police Commissioner of Philadelphia said, in response to the Wallace death, that her police force does not have the tools needed to address situations that have violence potential.  She made a commitment to correcting this departmental deficit.  We need more law enforcement leaders to speak to these harsh realities.  And we at Bridgeway need to continue to support our police partners to improve their understanding and skill at working with communities of color and people with mental health conditions.  Police are involved at times with persons served by Bridgeway and in most cases they perform admirably.  But “in most cases” is not enough.

At Bridgeway, our solidarity goes beyond words of sympathy and support. We work hand-in-hand with our Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) partners.  CIT is a best practice that needs more traction. Although it operates in most New Jersey counties, like in Union and Hudson where Bridgeway colleagues play a leadership role, there are still some police departments where it has minimal or no presence.  Governor Murphy supports expanding CIT in every county.  This is an opportunity for Bridgeway to play a larger role and we plan on doing so.  Bridgeway just signed a contract with the Linden and Hillside police departments to train every police officer in Mental Health First Aid practices that will assist them in their duties.

Internally, we are addressing our own need to be culturally competent throughout our staff at every level, from administrative and management, to direct care staff. Toward that end, we are currently asking every staff member to complete a survey (yes the survey fix is done) created by our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, in order for us to strategically target the areas that we can do better as an organization.  The survey results will be our baseline against which we will measure progress six months from now and beyond on diversity, equity and inclusion improvements for our employees and persons served.

Cory

Learn more about Police Based Crisis Intervention Team:

http://www.cit-nj.org

October 30th, 2020

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