(Norwalk, Conn.) Today, November 10, 2022, Mayor Rilling announced that the City of Norwalk hired its first Embedded Clinician to work alongside the Police Department in partnership with the Recovery Network of Programs (RNP). The Embedded Clinician is responsible for providing a trauma-informed perspective to crisis interventions and strengthening connections within the community to reduce the need for police intervention where possible.
"During the pandemic, the Community Services Department and Police Department saw a rise in mental health and substance abuse-related needs," said Mayor Rilling. "At the same time, many people in the community and nationwide called for leaders to find new ways to better address equity and enhance community-police relations. These new challenges required us to think outside the box and find different approaches to best support the evolving needs of our community. To better serve the community, we decided that an Embedded Clinician within the Police Department could help us meet these rising needs. By having someone in the Police Department who is trained to intervene in crisis situations, we can better respond to issues such as mental health and help our community get the support they need."
"We recognized the need for additional assistance with individuals with mental health issues and have worked for several years to bring a full-time mental health professional to the department," said Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik. "We are excited to finally see this come to fruition, and we welcome Alex to our team."
"In Norwalk, the City has a robust partnership with community providers and during the pandemic, we worked together to successfully launch a series of new programs that better connect our residents with community providers," said Lamond Daniels, Chief of Community Services at the City of Norwalk. "We are thrilled to now also have an incredible new resource with the Embedded Clinician in the Police Department, who will be working closely with our Community Services Department to fill in the gaps, and better connect police calls that require crisis interventions with local community providers."
Funding for the Embedded Clinician position was made possible through federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. A contract with the RNP for a one-year pilot program was approved by the City in September, and Alexandra Fitzner, LPC, was hired as the City of Norwalk's Embedded Clinician in October of 2022.
The RNP is a non-profit behavioral healthcare organization that has been serving Fairfield County for fifty years. RNP has the most extensive continuum of care in Fairfield County, with twenty-five distinct programs. RNP was the first in the State of Connecticut to develop and implement this law enforcement-behavioral health partnership in Stamford to address the social service, mental health and substance use disorder needs that are beyond the scope, mission and capacity of our police departments. RNP was selected as the provider for this collaboration as a result of their extremely successful collaboration with the Stamford Police Department, their demonstrated commitment to this work and their unique expertise in this program model that values and considers both law enforcement and behavioral healthcare needs and priorities.
"Recovery Network of Programs is honored to be collaborating with the City of Norwalk in this innovative law enforcement-behavioral health partnership," Jennifer Kolakowski, Recovery Network of Programs, CEO. "We are confident it will prove to be an effective, impactful collaboration that will not only strengthen the Norwalk Community but also support the Norwalk Police Department in profound ways."