George Latimer and Project Alliance Receive Community Partner Award

WESTCHESTER COUNTY – Westchester County Executive George Latimer and the Project Alliance Program received the Community Partner Award at the annual Guidance Center of Westchester Gala. The Guidance Center of Westchester offers essential and lasting support to those challenged by mental illness, substance abuse, poverty and homelessness. Latimer was joined by Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH) Commissioner Michael Orth, and Deputy Commissioner Joseph Glazer, along with DCMH staff who support the Project Alliance program.

Latimer invited the DCMH team in attendance to join in receiving the award, respecting their pivotal role in launching the program.

Latimer said, “I am honored to accept this recognition, but it is the hard work of our DCMH team working together with the Guidance Center that make Project Alliance a true success story. It has been wonderful to see this program come to fruition from its early days as a recommendation from the Police Reform & Reimagining Task Force, to a program that is truly serving the needs of residents struggling with behavioral and mental health challenges. Because of all of you, the people who participate have been given new opportunities to better their lives.”

Under Latimer’s leadership, Project Alliance was developed as a five-prong approach to address the needs of Westchester County residents with behavioral health challenges.
Project Alliance’s five prongs include:

* 911 Diversion – Diverting 911 crisis calls to qualified mental health professionals

* Enhanced Behavioral Health Line – 988 National Crisis and Suicide Prevention Line, operational 24/7

* Enhanced Training for EMS Personnel – Adult Mental Health First Aid training to police, fire, EMS and military

* Crisis Intervention Team Development – Fundamentals of Crisis Intervention for multiple jurisdictions throughout Westchester, all new police recruits at Westchester County Police Academy

* Mobile Crisis Response Teams (MCRT) – DCMH contracted with five mental health providers to create a partnership with local police departments, and County Government. Each team is responsible for covering a dedicated catchment area, and can provide mutual aid when needed.

Since the inception of Project Alliance, Westchester County has provided substantial funding to establish a 24/7 hotline to serve Westchester residents directly. The enhanced Behavioral Health Crisis Line received 8,115 calls in 2023, where no police or first responders were involved in the intervention of those with mental health needs.

In 2023, enhanced training of EMS personnel was offered to 172 new recruits, and experienced law enforcement officers to provide new awareness and tools to understand those individuals experiencing psychiatric crisis or substance misuse issues. EMS personnel were also trained on recognizing and supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, older populations, as well as children and youth with crisis needs.

The MCRT teams responded to 2488 calls in 2023, and an additional 9054 follow-ups were completed to ensure symptom reduction and coordination of service.

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