WEST ORANGE, NJ — In an effort to expand its access to resources to better serve the community in the cases of non-criminal crises, the West Orange Police Department is exploring a collaborative professional relationship with the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, Inc.

A full outline of the proposal for inclusion in the program has been sent by the West Orange Administration to Township Council President Michelle Casalino and all council members.

Approval for funding is needed by the council and will be discussed at the upcoming Aug. 11 meeting to be held via the Zoom app. 

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West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi expressed his optimism is support of this proposed collaborative effort.

“This is the type of program that coincides with the core values of our community in terms of seeking out new solutions to old problems," Parisi said. "It will help West Orange move forward with a renewed emphasis placed on enacting social change brought about by recent national events.” 

West Orange Police Chief James Abbott said, “Our police department is constantly open to the implementation of new and different programs. Especially those types that reflect our ongoing commitment to find improved methods in keeping all our residents safe. Our goal has always been to deescalate situations with new initiatives focusing on unnecessary force. Our potential participation in this collaborative effort holds promise for bringing us closer toward our objective.” 

The partnership between the WOPD and MHAEM is intended to help prioritize alternate response techniques and "advocate for treatment over incarceration whenever appropriate."