The new effort seeks to put information about people with mental health concerns or special needs in the hands of local police before they interact with them, and follows similar work from other tech firms.
This article originally appeared in Government Technology Magazine on October 19, 2022.
Amid a growing push to improve the way local government treats people with mental health crises and special needs, the digital services company GovPilot has launched a new effort with two New Jersey police departments to give more information to officers proactively.
"This GovPilot module facilitates a compassionate police response and represents an enhancement of public safety here in Englewood.” - Englewood, NJ Police Chief, Thomas Greeley
Though GovPilot is not a public safety company per se — it helps government build digital services — the company has worked with the local governments of Eastampton and Englewood, N.J., to put a new form on their websites. Residents can use the form to give emergency responders information that might be relevant when interacting with a person, including noise sensitivities, medications they take and their home address.
The new effort reflects a growing realization that police officers are often not trained or adequately staffed to respond to situations involving people with mental health concerns or special needs.
“Any information or knowledge that our officers have in advance of making contact with a special needs person in an emergency situation will enable them to have a more natural, personal conversation which puts everyone involved at ease and leads to a safer resolution for all parties,” said Thomas Greeley, the police chief in Englewood, in a press release. “This GovPilot module facilitates a compassionate police response and represents an enhancement of public safety here in Englewood.”
Other tech companies working with local government have made similar moves in recent years. HealthIM, funded by government entities in Canada, offers a tool to assess mental health risks in the field, while the computer-aided dispatch company Mark43 has introduced a resource directory for police.
GovPilot is headquartered in New Jersey.
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