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Murphy wants to double funding for program pairing cops with mental health workers

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Murphy wants to double funding for program pairing cops with mental health workers

Feb 27, 2024 | 10:30 am ET
By Nikita Biryukov
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Murphy wants to double funding for program pairing cops with mental health workers
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Gov. Phil Murphy wants to commit $20 million to a program that is intended to prevent escalation and violence during some police calls. (Hal Brown for New Jersey Monitor)

Gov. Phil Murphy will propose doubling state funding to a program partnering mental health professionals with police in responses to mental health calls in the draft budget he will unveil Tuesday.

Murphy will ask legislators to approve $20 million in state funding for the program, up from $10 million in the current budget year, which ends June 30.

“These partnerships are saving lives — especially Black and Latino lives. Last year, in fact, New Jersey saw its lowest number of shootings in nearly 15 years,” Murphy will say during his budget address, according to excerpts provided to the New Jersey Monitor.

First launched as a pilot program in Cumberland County in 2021, Arrive Together is meant to prevent violent escalations during police responses to mental health distress calls and divert individuals who would otherwise become incarcerated to mental health treatment.

Since its inception, the program has expanded in scope, spreading at first to 10 counties and then to towns in all 21. The additional funding Murphy will propose is expected to bring Arrive Together to more municipalities.

The program has won plaudits from some observers who say it has improved de-escalation and note that as few as 2% of Arrive Together response calls involved a use of force.

The Brookings Institution, a left-leaning D.C.-based think-tank, has studied the program and said that an individual’s race did not noticeably affect responses under Arrive Together. New Jersey has the worst racial disparities in prisons in the nation, jailing Black adults at 12 times the rate of white adults.

“This program — which is up and running in all 21 counties — has been a phenomenal success. And with our budget, we will expand it even further,” Murphy will say in his address.