The NAMI Massachusetts Criminal Justice Diversion Project (CJDP) aims to prevent the unnecessary arrest and detention of people diagnosed with mental health conditions. The CJDP supports police departments and other first responders in engaging with people experiencing mental health crisis, and fosters connections between law enforcement, behavioral health providers, and other community stakeholders.

The CJDP is working to develop a statewide strategy to make high quality training accessible to police departments in Massachusetts. Contact the CJDP to learn more about what you can do to help local law enforcement respond more safely and effectively to people diagnosed with mental health conditions.

Learn More About the Criminal Justice Diversion Project
Program Goals
  • Promote development of high quality police and first responder training programs and specialized response teams on interacting with people diagnosed with mental health conditions
  • Build partnerships between local police,  providers, community members, and other stakeholders
  • Ensure that crisis intervention services are available to everyone who requires them by advocating for expanded access to and funding for CIT training and other jail diversion programs
Program Achievements
  • Collaborated with the Municipal Police Training Committee and the Department of Mental Health to develop and launch an innovative new mental health curriculum for all municipal police recruits, in-service training for all current municipal officers, and in-service training for municipal police chiefs. Over 2,000 new police recruits, 17,000 officers, and over 200 chiefs in the Commonwealth received this important training on responding to mental health crises.
  • Partnered with the Somerville, Cambridge, Brookline, and Braintree Police Departments to develop three Regional Crisis Intervention Training and Technical Assistance Centers, with support from the Department of Mental Health. Hundreds of officers from police departments across massachusetts have graduated from the Centers’ 40-hour mental health training, and receive assistance with development of policies for mental health response and partnerships with local resources.
  • Facilitated the development of local collaborations between police departments, health providers, and other key stakeholders in communities such as Brookline, Belmont, Medford, Braintree, Milton, and Cohasset. These partnerships have resulted in policies and procedures that enhance cross-system communication, increase safety, and maximize access to community treatment for people diagnosed with mental health conditions.
  • Developed an Information-Sharing Project with the Cambridge Police Department, the Department of Mental Health, and the West Roxbury District Court. This project clarifies and facilitates communication between law enforcement, mental health, and other systems for the purposes of diverting people diagnosed with mental health conditions out of the criminal justice system and into appropriate supports.
Program Materials

Building Bridges: 10 Essential Elements for Effective Community Partnerships between Law Enforcement and Mental Health
Download Building Bridges (pdf – opens in a new tab)

Building Alliances between the Mental Health and Criminal Justice Systems to Prevent Unnecessary Arrests: Position Paper
Download Building Alliances (pdf – opens in a new tab)

Chart of Training and Technical Assistance Models for Police Mental Health Response
Download the chart (pdf – opens in a new tab)


Road Map through the Criminal Justice System for People with Mental Health Symptoms in Massachusetts (2020 update)
Download the Roadmap (pdf – opens in a new tab)

Massachusetts Community Justice Project & the Sequential Intercept Model

Department of Mental Health Forensic Services

Specialty Courts in Massachusetts

GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation

Stepping Up Initiative

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Programs

Contact the NAMI Mass Compass Helpline for help finding additional resources. Compass is available Monday through Friday, 10 am – 6 pm. Call us at 617-704-6264 or email us at Learn more about the NAMI Mass Compass Helpline.

Need information or resources for navigating the criminal justice system?

Check out our Legal Resources page.

You can also contact our Compass helpline. Learn more about Compass.

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Support for this project provided in part by:
Contact us for more information about the Criminal Justice Diversion Project:

Michelle Ward-Gilles, Ed.M.
Division Director, Community Education & Outreach