Bristol Township Says Yes to Co-Responder Program
Two down, one more municipality to go, as Bristol Township unanimously approved joining the County Co-Responder Human Services program Thursday night.
The initiative employs social workers working in tandem with local police departments to assist them on human services related calls.
The human services based program was launched in Bensalem a little more than a year ago, and is up and running in Falls and Middletown Townships currently.
Bristol Twp is the second of the three municipalities proposed to have the program in the area. Bristol Borough approved an agreement with the county earlier this month. Tullytown is expected to vote on the proposal at their March council meeting.
Two Co-Responders will work with the three area police departments on the human services related calls. Bucks County is funding the effort for two years.
The township has offered to have the Co-Responders work out of the municipal building and would supply vehicles from their available fleet, said Township Manager Randee Elton.
Our officers would still be going on the calls but can they make referrals to the social workers. The Co-Responders would not be going out on calls, unless a referral is made after an initial assessment, Elton said.
Co-responders collaborate and coordinate with agencies both in the county’s criminal justice system, such as the District Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices, as well as more than two dozen social services groups including the Area Agency on Aging, the Bucks County Children and Youth Social Services Agency and the Network of Victim Assistance.
“I think it will benefit the townshiip” in many ways, she said.
A six-month review last year indicated the Co-responders stationed in Bensalem seemed already to be helping to reduce the amount of time police officers were spending on non-crime calls. Further review will be required to substantiate the early, but promising, finding.
Now with two of the three municipalities approving the program could be launched in the area some time in the spring, a County Spokesperson said.
“I feel strongly about this program, that it will be a boon and a benefit to Bristol Township and its residents. And its no harm, no foul, for us from a budget standpoint, or the taxpayers. So for me its a win, win, win and I heartily endorse it,” said Councilman Patrick Antonello.