In Brief

New Jersey initiative pairing cops with mental health experts arrives in Newark

By: - August 1, 2023 4:18 pm

The program, dubbed Arrive Together, is intended to lessen the use of force during police calls involving people with mental health issues. (Getty Images)

A state initiative pairing plainclothes police officers with mental health experts is expanding to New Jersey’s largest city.

The program, dubbed Arrive Together, launched in Newark on June 21, Attorney General Matt Platkin said at a press conference Tuesday at Beth Israel Medical Center. He was joined by local leaders and medical officials.

The Newark program will operate three days a week during a pilot phase. Mental health screeners from Beth Israel Medical Center and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care will join Newark police officers as they respond to some 911 calls involving people suffering from mental health crises. Screeners will also work with NJ Transit police to assist people experiencing homelessness and mental and behavioral health issues.

Since the program launched in Newark, Arrive Together teams have responded to calls involving 80 people, Platkin said. Kevin Corbett, CEO and president of NJ Transit, said the program has referred about 35 unhoused people to outpatient services and mental health treatment.

Corbett called the expanded program a “game changer” and a “significant shift to how we respond to the behavioral health crisis.”

“We’re not equipped as a facility to deal with a lot of the issues that end up being at our doorstep as a major transit hub,” Corbett said.

The news that Arrive Together is operating in Newark comes nearly five months after a deadly police shooting rattled the city of Paterson in March. After police fatally shot Najee Seabrooks, a local activist who was reportedly having a mental health crisis at the time he was killed, the state took over Paterson’s police department. 

Platkin said Seabrooks’ death remains under investigation. But, he said, the state is already expanding alternative police responses statewide and learning how different they will look in every community.

“My hope is that as this program expands, we will see fewer incidents where we have use of force, use of lethal force against an officer, use of force by an officer, and ultimately give people a better and more compassionate treatment that will get them back on their feet,” he said.

The Arrive Together program launched in Cumberland County in December 2021. Since then, it’s expanded to nine other counties and dozens of municipalities, with participants fielding over 700 calls. A study from the Brookings Institution touted New Jersey’s initiative as crucial to restoring trust broken between communities and law enforcement.

The state Legislature appropriated $10 million in the state budget passed in June to expand Arrive Together across the state.

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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.