Ayer, Boxborough, Littleton, and Westford Police to Share Co-Response Clinician
: Ayer Police Chief Brian Gill, Boxborough Police Chief John Szewczyk, Littleton Police Chief Matthew Pinard, and Westford Police Chief Mark Chambers are pleased to announce that their police departments will share a new co-response mental health clinician to help improve police services to those suffering from mental health crises and substance use disorder. Co-response clinician Susan Lemere, who has a masters degree from Smith College, and who is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will be available to respond with police to calls for service involving mental health or substance use disorder issues to provide on site counseling and services, as well as follow up care and resources for community-based support.
The addition of Lemere as a co-response clinician is an expansion of the COIN jail diversion program, of which the Ayer, Boxborough, Littleton and Westford departments are members. COIN, a program of Family Continuity
, has been working in the community to support residents in getting mental health, substance use disorder, and community-based supports since 2016. This expansion will allow a clinician to respond to 911 calls at the time of crisis to offer more immediate support when needed.
Lemere has worked as a co-responder in Vermont, where she worked with the Montpelier and Barre City Police Departments, as well as Washington County Mental Health Services.
"I believe strongly in the co-response model and look forward to collaborating with police here to serve the community," Lemere said.
"We are very fortunate to have a co-response clinician of Susan’s high quality working with us and enhancing the services we have available through our partnership with the COIN program," said Chief Chambers. "We owe it to our residents to take advantage of these opportunities to provide additional support to those experiencing a mental health or substance misuse crisis."
“When we can provide proper services for an individual experiencing a mental health crisis thereby keeping that individual out of the courts because of an arrest, then we are doing our job promoting the guardian mindset in policing, as opposed to the warrior mindset”, said Boxborough Police Chief John Szewczyk. “What set Susan apart from other candidates was not only her fine work history and impressive educational qualifications, but her empathy and compassion. We are looking forward to having someone of Susan’s caliber become part of the Boxborough community and welcome her to town.”
“This is just one more step we are taking to ensure we are doing our part in assisting with those in need of assistance with mental health needs," said Chief Pinard. "The challenge of our nation's mental health crisis has been thrust upon us, and we are working to meet that challenge with professionalism and compassion."
“Working with Susan as our shared co-response clinician will be a progressive step forward in providing much needed services to those experiencing mental health crisis and/or substance use disorder," said Chief Gill. "It is our hope that by triaging crises in the field with Susan and using the follow-up referral services through our COIN program, we will be able to better serve those in need in our communities.”