Falmouth, Yarmouth and Cumberland police departments hope to be sharing a mental health liaison as soon as July 1 to help them with an increase in calls for mental health-related issues.

The liaison will split their time between the three police departments to respond with officers on mental health-related calls, provide crisis intervention, follow up on cases, and refer and connect people with mental health services.

They also will help with officer training, community outreach, activities to increase behavioral health and resiliency, substance use awareness, and suicide awareness and prevention, according to the contract.

“We feel they’ll be very busy,” Falmouth Police Chief John Kilbride.

The three departments combined respond to an average of 275 calls for mental health crisis per year, “with numbers that are much higher when combined with calls involving substance use and calls where mental health and substance use issues are underlying causes for other problems,” according to a joint press release by the three departments.

Kilbride told The Forecaster last month that mental health-related calls have risen considerably over the past several years in Falmouth.


“Officers are managing more suicidal threat calls, youth distraught issues, homelessness and transient traffic,” he said. “There have been four or five group homes with adults that have developmental disabilities that have relocated to Falmouth over the past two years that have required numerous police interventions to calm or control the patient. I think it is no surprise the pandemic, isolation, drugs, alcohol and other social issues have contributed to the call volume.”

Cumberland Police Chief Charles Rumsey was working with the Waterville Police Department in 1996 when a mentally ill man broke into a chapel and killed two nuns and seriously injured two others. After that, Rumsey said, the Waterville chief  brought mental health workers into the department.

“This program made better police officers because they were able to learn how these crisis workers went out and de-escalated people,” he said, and they learned how to recognize signs of distress.

The joint agreement between the towns and the Cumberland County Commission was approved unanimously by the board of commissioners April 11.

The new position, which must be approved by all three towns, received unanimous approval from the Falmouth and Cumberland town councils April 11. Yarmouth Police Chief Daniel Gallant has recommended the Yarmouth council also approve the measure and the council is expected to do so April 28,  according to Council Chairperson April Humphrey.

The goal is to fill the position by July 1, with the contract running to June 2025. One mental health liaison will be hired to start, with the potential of a second hire in the future if needed.

The position is being funded as part of the American Rescue Plan Act and will have no impact on the towns’ fiscal year 2023 budgets, as the first year will be covered 100% by ARPA funds. As part of the three-year contract, 75% of the cost would be covered by the ARPA in the second year and 50% in the third year. The rest of the cost will be split equally between the three towns. The current estimate for a single liaison is about $7,000 for each town in the second year and about $14,500 per town in the third year.

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