The City of Hackensack hosted it's first "Stigma-Free" meeting at City Hall Monday night. City representatives, officials and volunteers met to develop a strategy to address mental illness in our community.
Hackensack Police announced taser training that the Department will undertake in the coming months. "Tasers are just one tool we'll have in our box that we hope we never need. Understanding and compassion are tools of first resort", said Councilman Jason Some after the meeting. The tasers will also be equipped with cameras which may help "bolster community trust and confidence in police responses to certain encounters," explained Officer-in-Charge Timothy Lloyd. The Police academy will also continue to train officers on how to respond to emotionally disturbed people. City Manager David Troast reminded attendees that Hackensack officers recently resorted to non-lethal means to disarm a suspect who threatened bodily harm with a knife at great risk to themselves. "Talking people down" is preferred.
The committee resolved to keep meeting and begin training and educating others on how to recognize and respond to mental illness. The group also agreed to learn what has worked in other communities who started to tackle this issue. Educating children was also prioritized.
Future dates and developments will be announced at hackensack.org. "This is a great first step for us and the city administration stands ready to support this initiative as it moves forward", said Deputy Mayor Kathy Canestino.
The Bergen County STIGMA-FREE Campaign is a county-wide program which aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. The program is dedicated to raising awareness of the disease of mental illness and to creating a culture wherein residents who have the disease feel supported by their community and neighbors and feel free to seek treatment for the disease without fear of stigma.
For more information, please visit: http://www.co.bergen.nj.us/index.aspx?NID=1242
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