At a recent Milford City Council meeting, Acting Chief Ed Huey explained to council members that Milford Police Department was hoping to expand the Behavioral Health Unit to include victim services. Currently, the department uses Delaware State Police Victim Services, but it was felt that bringing that to the local level would be beneficial. During the meeting, Councilman Mike Boyle pointed out how beneficial the unit had been to the city.
“I just want to bring it to the attention of the council that the number of diversions both for arrests and the ER continue at the same, even a little bit higher, pace than they were last month. And the cumulative effect, basically, you’re keeping 113 officers from having to divert from their patrol duty throughout Milford so far this year and keeping them on the street. It’s just a great program and thank you for your support. And please convey my hope they keep up the good work.”
Huey stated that there was a plan to transition a behavioral health specialist into the victim assistant program in addition to her duties in behavioral health. Because this specialist is currently paid using grant funds, the city human resources department felt that, as a salaried position, the specialist could not perform that function while she is on city business. Currently, the city is in negotiations to renew the grant.
Councilman Jason James asked if additional personnel would benefit the unit.
“There are two part timers, and their hours are somewhat limited. If their hours were increased, we may be able to provide that service a little bit more around the clock,” Huey said. “We have, I think everyone knows, a serious drug problem here in Milford as with everywhere. The other day, we had four overdoses in the same day. One of those overdoses was a cocktail of basically straight fentanyl. So, if we can expand that program a little bit to provide some more treatment referrals, maybe we can kind of reduce that problem with our drug addiction and drug use and offer more resources, more can be done.”
Mayor Archie Campbell suggested a special meeting to discuss the future of the behavioral health unit, pointing out that one of the women who overdosed had a ten-year old child and an infant with her at the time. Councilman Katrina Wilson asked if this would be a regular police committee meeting as she felt all members of council should be involved. Councilman James suggested a workshop to discuss the matter and Mayor Campbell agreed, stating that it was especially critical when children were involved. Councilman Boyle asked if there was a time issue regarding the grant.
“The grant runs out in mid-September, so they have to close it out and then make a decision whether they are going to continue with the memorandum of understanding,” Huey said.
Councilman Boyle stated that he felt the looming deadline made this discussion a priority and, although he agreed with Councilman James that not everything could be included in a workshop, this discussion was a priority as the city could lose funding. Mayor Campbell agreed and stated that staff would set up a workshop or meeting to discuss the behavioral health unit as soon as possible.
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