A program that partners a mental health co-responder with the Greencastle, Waynesboro and Washington Township police departments will continue with funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.
Money from the state also will cover a mental health liaison for the Chambersburg Police Department, according to Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas, who said specific information about the amount and duration of funding is not yet available.
Kay Martin has been the Keystone Health co-responder with the three police departments in the southern part of the county since May 2017. The position initially was funded by a Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency grant that expires in December.
Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr. announced the continuation of the program at Tuesday's borough council meeting.
Local officials credit the program with getting appropriate help for people who need it, keeping them out of courts and jail and freeing up police officers for law enforcement.
Echoing comments he made when Martin appeared and talked about her work at the August council meeting, Ben Thomas called this "the most proactive program this police department has instituted in years."
At the August meeting, Greencastle Police Chief John Phillippy said Martin assists the department with people who otherwise would end up locked up.
"A lot of them don't belong in jail," he said, noting instead of clogging the judicial system or being a nuisance, they become productive members of society with Martin's help.
"Mental health should not be a crime," said Bob Thomas, who learned about community mental health liaisons at a meeting of the National Association of Counties several years ago.
"The services she provides are indispensable to our residents," Waynesboro Police Chief James Sourbier IV said regarding Martin. "We're pleased that the county wants to continue the operations of the metal health liaison."
Examples of how Martin helps is putting senior citizens in contact with the Area Agency on Aging, connecting veterans with the services available to them and making sure others are getting the mental health help they need.
Contact Shawn Hardy at email@example.com or 717-597-2164