The program which launched its two-year pilot initiative in December 2020 alongside the Bensalem Township Police Department has appointed two additional social workers to work with police in Lower Bucks to help divert people in need of social services away from the criminal justice system.

The co-responders are tasked with assisting on cases covering a range of issues including aging, mental health, substance use disorders, and domestic violence, and then connecting those involved with relevant resources

“We are looking forward to working with the co-responders here in Bristol Borough,” “The program will be an asset to our community.” said borough police Chief Joe Moors.

The addition of Fetiye KAzee and Keevan Johnson brings the services of the Human Services Co-Responder program to Bristol Township, Bristol Borough, and Tullytown Borough. The two will join Rachel Agosto and Walter Bynum who were hired in 2020.

“Keevon and Tia are highly qualified for these positions, and we are thrilled to have them on the team,” said Bristol Township police Lt. Ralph Johnson. “There is maximum potential for success as we move forward with this addition to our policing toolbox.”

Co-responders work in collaboration with agencies in the county’s criminal justice system, like police and prosecutors, as well as social services agencies that assist with issues related to aging, substance abuse, and mental health.

As of late April, the program is now operating in six municipalities, with co-responders also working with police in Bensalem Township, Falls Township, and Middletown Township.

The co-responders along with their colleagues at Bucks County Human Services will collect and analyze data with academic partners to evaluate the program’s impact. Dr. Patricia Griffin, Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Criminal Justice at Holy Family University lead the evaluation efforts.

A review of the program’s first year showed a trending decline in the average amount of time Bensalem police spent responding to social services calls. Of the 18 cases involving co-responders where an arrest was possible, more than half saw people diverted from further contact with the criminal justice system. The co-responders assisted 212 people and made referrals to 77 agencies.

“We are so fortunate to partner with police leadership to bring our co-responder initiative to three more communities,” said Rachael Neff, director of the county’s Human Services Division. “Keevon and Tia are excellent additions to our ever-growing Human Services Co-Responder team.”

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