A program designed to help ensure that police interactions with the public don't get out of hand should have a presence in every New Jersey county by year's end.

Officials on Thursday announced that every law enforcement agency in Union County is now up and running with the ARRIVE Together program, including the police department at Kean University — the first college campus to join the effort.

ARRIVE (Alternative Responses to Reduce Instances of Violence and Escalation) Together targets police calls that involve mental health and behavioral emergencies. In its first version in Cumberland County, launched in December 2021, a plain clothed trooper would be paired with a mental health screener in an unmarked vehicle.

"It's a recognition that we've asked law enforcement to do too much, to be more than just patrol officers," Attorney General Matthew Platkin said during a press conference at Kean University.

The program has expanded to have a presence in 13 New Jersey counties, Platkin said.

"We're serving about 25% of the state's population," he said.

Since the launch, ARRIVE has served more than 1,400 individuals. These cases have resulted in zero injuries for residents or police, as well as zero arrests.

"This program is one of the most important initiatives we have ever brought to our community and, along with other programs aimed at assisting individuals with mental health concerns and special needs, will ensure that all Union County residents and their families are served with respect and dignity, while at the same time enhancing public safety," said Union County Prosecutor William Daniel.

ARRIVE runs in different ways, depending on the community and circumstance. In certain instances, mental health professionals may be sent on calls with law enforcement. In others, law enforcement may just identify individuals who could benefit from a follow-up by a mental health provider.

In Atlantic City, officials are running a telehealth model — police on the scene use electronic tablets to provide individuals with real-time services.

Soon, Union County will try sending only mental health professionals on certain calls.

By the end of 2023, ARRIVE should be active in all 21 New Jersey counties, Platkin said.

"That's going to make New Jersey the first state in the country to have an alternative response model in every county in our state," Platkin said.

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