The Battle Creek Police Department, in coordination with Summit Pointe and the Battle Creek Community Foundation, has received just over $1 million in U.S. Department of Justice grants to fund crisis intervention and victim advocate programs.
One grant, in collaboration with the BCCF, is for $276,000 under the Law Enforcement-Based Victim Specialist Program. This award that will fund a victim advocate – someone who can help victims of violent crime navigate the criminal justice process, and connect them with community resources.
“Since 2016, BCCF became involved in providing victim supports, as a result of the mass shooting in Kalamazoo involving an Uber driver, with four of the six victims from Battle Creek,” said Annette Chapman, senior vice president of the BCCF. “As we have worked in both communities, we identified a large gap in victim services and supports in Battle Creek.
“The BCPD’s award of this Office of Victim of Crime grant is an outstanding example of community partnering and capacity building that will result in the provision of additional services for the residents of Battle Creek.”
The other grant, in collaboration with Summit Pointe, is for $750,000 under the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program. It will help fund the continuation of the Crisis Intervention Team program, training police to best respond to those with a mental illness, or who are in a mental health crisis. In particular, police plan to focus attention on local schools, and young neighbors.
The successes of the CIT program in Battle Creek and Calhoun County was touted nationwide as part of Battle Creek’s application to, and subsequent win, of the All-America City Award in 2019.
“This grant will allow our CIT program in Calhoun County to expand, with an emphasis on the youth in our community,” said Jeannie Goodrich, CEO of Summit Pointe. “CIT-Youth and Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety will assist law enforcement in Calhoun County on the challenge of working with youth in our community that they encounter, with the intention of getting families connected with supportive services offered in our community.”
In addition, the Kids Reaching Excellence Support Team will work collaboratively with the local court and probation systems to provide individualized treatment and supportive interventions, to decrease the time local youth will require court oversight.
Battle Creek Police Chief Jim Blocker said he is grateful for the many community partners that make these programs possible.
“We have great partners in Summit Pointe and our area hospitals, which work with our CIT-trained officers on how to divert people in crises to the help they need, instead of incarceration – which in most cases will not help as intended,” Blocker said of the Crisis Intervention Team. “Since 2017, we have seen a dramatic shift in arrest and use-of-force incidents. Out of nearly 600 CIT-specific calls for service, less than 1 percent were taken to jail; all others were diverted to receive the care they need, even in cases when a crime might have occurred.”
The BCCF will employ the victim advocate – who will then work from the BCPD’s Community Fusion Center with first responders and other supporting agencies.
“Today we are building the capacity of the Fusion Center to address the complex challenges we face in our community, surrounding violent crime,” Blocker said. “We are grateful for our community partners and funders, who support this necessary, community-based approach.
“These are not just law enforcement challenges – they affect us all – and together we can fill these gaps effectively, and make positive change in our community.”