Police in Greencastle, Waynesboro and Washington Township will soon share a new weapon when they respond to some emergencies — a mental health responder.
The three departments are part of a pilot program funded by a Criminal Justice Advisory Board Grant through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Greencastle Police Chief John Phillippy introduced borough council members to the initiative by Franklin/Fulton Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities/Early Intervention at Monday night’s meeting.
Phillippy has submitted some paperwork for the program to the borough solicitor and Borough Manager Eden Ratliff said more information will be provided at the public safety committee meeting and at the next council meeting.
“I think it will be a good thing for all the communities involved,” Phillippy said. “I am looking forward to the program getting off the ground in the near future.”
Details are still being worked out, but Phillippy said the responder probably will be working evening hours because most mental health-related calls don’t arise during the day shift.
The responder will be available to police for issues like domestic violence, people who are suicidal, drug overdoses and other crises.
“They’re a lifeline,” said Phillippy, who explained police sometimes can only “put a Band-Aid on something that’s hemorrhaging.”
The responder can help people get help and maybe just be a listening ear.
“Maybe they just need someone to talk to rather than run to the hospital,” he said.
He noted many mental health calls are rooted in money problems and an ambulance ride and a hospital visit will just compound financial worries.
“There’s always been a need,” he said. “The more help we can get, the more benefit we can be to the community.”
*** Police ***
In other police business, Phillippy noted officer Keith Russell and the police K-9 Rony recently attended a recertification program and earned a 100 percent.
About 75 pounds of pills dropped off at the police narcotics box recently were taken to the National Guard in Chambersburg for transport to an incinerator.
Council members also agreed that in the future the chief can authorize training that is included in the budget without having to go through the public safety committee and council.
*** Council ***
n At the request of Councilman Duane Kinzer, a moment of silence was held early in the meeting for Glenn Knepper, a former Greencastle Water Authority and Greencastle Borough Council member who died Feb. 28.
n Councilman Craig Myers asked about the half-hearted attempt to repair trenches dug on Allison Street by the gas company.
Mayor Robert Eberly noted that is a state road maintained by PennDOT. He said the work was done after the blacktop season and the gas company and PennDOT will probably work together in the spring to repair it.
Ratliff said he will followup on the matter because “it is their street, but it’s our town.
n Myers also relayed a citizen’s request that council agendas be put on the borough website prior to the meetings. Ratliff agreed that is a “great idea.”