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Date: Apr 25, 2018

Releases Report by Council of State Governments Justice Center

An independent review of the County’s police responses to people with behavioral health needs found that the County has a strong foundation in place with its Baltimore County Crisis Response System (BCCRS), and its programs and services. The assessment, conducted by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center at the request of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, offers recommendations intended to further improve the County’s practices.

In late 2016, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz asked the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center to conduct an independent assessment of its law enforcement and behavioral health collaboration, the Baltimore County Crisis Response System (BCCRS), which helps the County respond to people who have behavioral health needs. In partnership with the Baltimore County Police Department (BCPD), the Baltimore County Department of Health, and the Affiliated Santé Group—a non-profit behavioral health crisis service provider—the CSG Justice Center reviewed the BCCRS for its effectiveness, comprehensiveness, and adherence to national best practices.

Report Hails Cultural Competence Training

The assessment report outlines positive steps the County has taken toward providing additional training focused on improving the cultural competence of law enforcement officers, and states that the number of hours BCPD spends on these trainings exceeds other jurisdictions with which the CSG Justice Center has worked:

Additional trainings related to implicit bias and cultural competency for all new BCPD recruits on topics such as bias incident, FBI civil rights, and diversity

“Fair Practices” training for new lieutenants and front-line supervisors (i.e., corporals) that focuses on the opportunities, challenges, and values of ensuring diversity in a public safety agency, including its impact on employee morale and the agency’s relationship with the community

“Blue Courage” curriculum training for all sworn BCPD employees (from recruit to the executive level), which explores the importance of respect in policing and public safety

Steps Taken to Better Respond to Individuals with Behavioral Health Needs

The report identifies significant steps County officials have taken to improve BCCRS and BCPD responses to people who have behavioral health needs. These efforts include:

A three-year strategic plan for providing comprehensive mental health and de-escalation training to staff at all levels

An action plan developed by the police department to improve data collection and analysis for BCCRS data and performance indicators

Additional specialized training opportunities provided to officers and clinicians on the Mobile Crisis Team, such as crisis intervention and mental health/first aid training

Crisis Intervention Team training opportunities for 911 dispatchers and other critical first responders in the County

Recommendations for Continuous Improvement

Kamenetz has directed the County’s police chief and health and human services director to respond to the report’s recommendations within 90 days.

“Our police department and health officials remain committed to improving police responses to those with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders,” said Kamenetz. “This assessment is critical in strengthening our effectiveness, comprehensiveness, and adherence to national best practices.”

By Diana Creasy, Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development

The networking was face-to-face, not face-to-Facebook. Business professionals and youth met in a packed room at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The idea? Help young people learn the art of old-school networking.

“This event benefits both parties—employers and students,” said Dontè Brown, a Community College of Baltimore County Learn, Earn, Achieve, Progress (CCBC LEAP) program student.” It’s beneficial to people like me who are nervous and trying to come out of our shell and it gets the employers familiar with their future employees.”

Emergent – Youth Networking brought together members of the Baltimore County Workforce Board and other business professionals to network and mentor youth from the CCBC LEAP program. Each young adult was able to meet with five different mentors throughout the evening to help build confidence, gain social engagement skills, receive constructive feedback, and develop real world relationships with industry professionals.

“With technology driving communication, it’s harder for young people to learn personal networking skills,” said Jim Russell, Baltimore County Workforce Board Member and CFO/COO of North American Millwright. “Classroom training can only teach so much.”

CCBC’s LEAP program provides 150 young adults ages 18-24 with comprehensive education and employment services to prepare them for success in the workplace. The program offers young adults an opportunity to obtain a secondary diploma, engage in career exploration, gain industry recognized credentials, and acquire employment and work-based learning experiences.

“It’s great they are getting started with networking early in their careers,” said Crystal Hickey, Baltimore County Workforce Board Member and Senior VP of Human Resources for Stella Maris.

CCBC LEAP student Courey Veney summed up the experience. “I walked in with butterflies, but after talking to a few people, I felt great. This event helped me improve my social skills and really taught me how to network.”

Emergent – Youth Networking was organized by the Youth Services team of the Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development as part of Job Connector, a new program established by County Executive Kamenetz that connects employers with a pipeline of talent whose skills match business needs. 

Revised September 11, 2017