A Collaborative Mission: Responding to Persons with Mental Illness

The town of Wakefield is a community located approximately 15 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts, with a population of approximately 25,000. Due to the community’s proximity to several major traffic routes and interstate highways, the calls for service come from a diverse community, often varying by time of day.

Beginning in 2010, the Wakefield Police Department faced a problem in the community’s downtown business area, receiving a number of calls regarding individuals who were panhandling and generally making citizens uncomfortable. Officers were sent to the area, and they spoke to several of the business owners who felt that this activity was hurting their operations. Typically, the officers would simply move these individuals along, which would take care of the immediate problem, but this short-term solution often meant that calls for the same situation would come in later during the same day or during subsequent days.