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Recent Mental Health Responses and Coordinated Approaches

We wanted to make the community aware of four notable public safety responses that have occurred since Friday. Each response involved residents who were struggling with mental health issues. Three of the four involved residents were armed. Each situation was resolved peacefully without any injuries to anyone involved and the residents were transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment.    

Last night, officers responded to a report of an adult son in his 40s experiencing a severe level of psychosis, threatening to kill their parents, and armed with a knife. The parents ran out of their Cambridge house – leaving a door unlocked for officers – and locked themselves inside their vehicle until police arrived. The son then barricaded himself in a room within the house and refused to leave the room. After officers arrived and gained access to the house, they located the son and were able to begin communicating with him through a door. The Community Behavioral Health Center at the Cambridge Health Alliance was then contacted by Emergency Communications, and a clinician was dispatched, while officers from the Crisis Negotiation Unit arrived on-site and maintained verbal communication with the son in hopes of building trust and rapport. Three hours later, the son eventually opened the door. When the situation was determined to be safe, the clinician spoke with the son and he agreed to be transported by Pro EMS to a local hospital for an evaluation.

On Monday, officers responded to the 1000 block of Massachusetts Avenue for a report of a person setting a bush on fire. Officers responded to this location and located a Cambridge man in his 40s across the street with a lighter in his hand next to a smoldering bush. While investigating, officers also located multiple piles of trash that had been burned; one pile was located on top of an electrical outlet. The Cambridge Fire Department extinguished the burnt property and the male was safely taken into custody by the police. He was charged with four counts of “Burn Personalty,” as he also was determined to be the suspect of a previous incident in which a fire was set to a church dumpster located in an alley way on Mt. Auburn Street a few days earlier.

On Sunday, officers responded to a reported domestic incident in which an adult son in his 20s was suffering an escalating mental health crisis and damaging property inside his family’s Cambridge home with a hammer. When officers arrived on scene and attempted to speak with the son, he threatened to kill a parent and officers while holding the hammer. He then locked himself inside of a room within the house. During that time, a supervisor brought in the 40mm Less Lethal tool. After a few minutes, he exited with the hammer and an officer displayed the 40mm Less Lethal, gave the male verbal commands, and the son complied by dropping the hammer. He was walked to a Pro EMS ambulance staged outside the home and involuntarily transported to a local hospital for further evaluation and treatment. A sweep inside the room, where the son locked himself inside, was conducted and officers located and recovered the hammer, along with a long knife, an airsoft gun, and tactical gear.

Finally, a Cambridge male in his 20s was transported to the Bridgewater State Hospital on Friday after careful coordination was conducted by Cambridge Police with a university police department, hospital staff and local service providers, the District Attorney’s office, and a local judge. The male was initially sectioned to a local hospital on Monday, January 23rd after he was threatening students on campus with a baseball bat, used various slurs, punched a college student in an unprovoked attack, and intimidated them due their sexual orientation. While at the hospital, he assaulted at least five employees during his stay. Officers transported him straight from the hospital to Cambridge District Court and a local judge ordered that he receive longer-term treatment and evaluations at the Bridgewater State Hospital. 

As a reminder, the state recently launched several programs to make it easier for children, teens, and adults to get help for mental health conditions and substance use disorders.

Everyone in Massachusetts now has access to a free 24-hour behavioral health hotline (833-773-2445) and a state-funded network of 25 Community Behavioral Health Centers (CBHCs) that serve every community in the Commonwealth. These programs were created as part of the state’s Roadmap for Behavioral Health Reform plan.

Cambridge residents can access services locally through the Community Behavioral Health Center at Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA). Services include free 24-hour CHA Access and a Crisis Line: 833-222-2030.

Page was posted on 2/1/2023 6:07 PM
Page was last modified on 7/25/2023 1:23 AM
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