HomeBristol TimesCo-responder program expands to Bristol Township, Borough

Co-responder program expands to Bristol Township, Borough

Social workers work with local police to divert people in need of social services away from the criminal justice system

Source: BucksCounty.org

The appointments of social workers Fetiye “Tia” Kazee and Keevon Johnson are bringing the services of Bucks County’s co-responder program to Bristol Township, Bristol Borough and Tullytown Borough.

Co-responders work in collaboration with agencies in the county’s criminal justice system, such as police and prosecutors, as well as social services agencies that assist with issues related to aging, substance abuse and mental health. Their goal is to work alongside police and aid in the county’s efforts to divert people in need of social services away from the criminal justice system.

“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.”

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

Kazee and Johnson both start their new position at a salary of $59,000. The county has agreed to fund each co-responder position for two years.

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

The county launched the co-responder program in December 2020 with its pilot initiative in Bensalem. 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. In that year, the co-responders had assisted 212 people and made referrals to 77 agencies.

“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.”

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