With an eye on providing optimal social services for those dealing with a crisis or mental health issue, the Falls Township Supervisors on Monday joined Falls Township Police Chief Nelson Whitney in supporting the continuation of its human services co-responder program.
Bucks County funded the first two years of the program with a grant. Beginning in January and continuing through at least Dec. 31, 2025, Falls Township will cover the salary of the human services co-responder, a specially trained social worker paired with Falls police. The co-responder assists with a variety of calls, including de-escalating adolescent issues or runaway scenarios, domestic violence calls, assisting those dealing with mental strife, and intervening in instances where suicide or self-harm are a concern.
Supervisor Chairman Jeff Dence said the township knew it would need to fund the program following the initial two-year stint. Dence said the co-responder program has been a “tremendous help” in addressing issues that would otherwise take a lot of police officer time.
Whitney told the board that last month alone the co-responder received 35 referrals for residents in need of service.
“Each one of those referrals takes time that an officer would have been spending,” Whitney said. “It’s an invaluable program.”
Over a weekend the co-responder receives more than 100 text messages and emails, according to Whitney.
Additional grant funding to help cover the $105,000 annual salary of the co-responder could be forthcoming with grants, according to Whitney.
In other business, the Supervisors formalized an agreement with BusPatrol America, LLC related to ticketing of drivers who ignore the flashing lights and stop arm on school buses. “Similar to a red light camera,” township attorney Lauren Gallagher said the equipment installed on Pennsbury School District buses takes pictures and video of motorists who drive around the stop arm and uses that data to issue citations. The memorandum of understanding between Falls and BusPatrol highlights that there would be “no fines or costs assessed to the police department in the event there’s a challenge to the fine,” according to Gallagher.