MEDFORD – Members of the Middlesex County Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) Initiative gathered in Medford on Thursday, August 10, to discuss efforts to effectively integrate public safety and emergency services data to create better outcomes for those suffering from mental health and substance use disorders.
The DDJ Initiative was initially launched last summer by the White House, with a goal of using data to break the cycle of incarceration for those suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders. Locally, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office and more than 20 municipal police departments signed on to the initiative last fall and have been working with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and National Association of Counties (NACo) since January to identify resources to support local efforts.
“Day-in and day-out our first responders and emergency service providers are interacting with individuals in crisis. One individual may be a perpetrator, victim and witness in multiple cases across differing communities,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian. “By sharing data across jurisdictions, and systems, we can not only break the cycle of incarceration for local residents, but more importantly help address the underlying behavioral health issues which are leading to these interactions with law enforcement and emergency service providers.”
Last week’s meeting was attended by more than two-dozen members of law enforcement (including 12 chief executives), as well as representatives of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, state agencies, the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and EMS providers. The meeting also included the first demonstration of a secure data integration and sharing platform under construction for use within Middlesex County.
"We are thrilled by the commitment to Data-Driven Justice from Sheriff Koutoujian and Police Chiefs across Middlesex County,” said Lynn Overmann, Vice President of Data-Driven Justice at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. “By using data to help connect people struggling with opioid use and mental illness to effective treatment in the community, Middlesex law enforcement leaders will serve as a model for jurisdictions across the country."
Last week’s convening was the second gathering of DDJ partners. The first was held in December at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office Training Academy in Chelmsford. The Middlesex County DDJ Initiative is comprised of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office and the Acton, Arlington, Ashland, Bedford, Billerica, Boxborough, Burlington, Cambridge, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Dracut, Lowell, Marlborough, North Reading, Reading, Somerville, Tewksbury, Townsend, Wakefield and Watertown Police Departments. The Holliston, Hopkinton and Sherborn Police Departments will also participate through an ongoing collaboration with the Ashland Police Department.