Helping During Times of Crisis

Police officer consoling a young womanMental health issues in recent years have been on the rise and the pandemic has further exacerbated the situation. All age groups have been affected. To help better protect the well-being of individuals in crisis, professors from the psychology, sociology, and criminal justice departments at County College of Morris (CCM) are hosting “A Conversation on Community Mental Health and Criminal Justice” to discuss how police can best respond to people struggling with a mental health crisis.

This free event, open to the public, will be held via Zoom on Thursday April 1, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. To register for the discussion, email

“This event brings together CCM students and faculty with stakeholders in the community to focus on the police response to persons experiencing mental health crises,” said Dr. Karen Danna, interim chair of the Sociology and Human Services department at CCM. “Such discussions are extremely valuable in preventing violence, enhancing communication and trust between the police and civil society, and promoting community well-being.”

Professor John Williford, chair of the Department of Psychology and Education at CCM, explained, “Morris County has done a good job at helping people during times of crisis, which is why we have asked criminal justice professionals from the county to share what they are doing so more people can be helped.” Those guests include Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Sgt. Russ Hatzel from the Mount Olive Police Department.

“Police officers are in a unique position in that much of their day-to-day activities involve dealing with people in crisis,” noted Dr. William Solomons, assistant chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at CCM. “Historically, officers have been ill-prepared to successfully negotiate these situations. Unfortunately, with little training and guidance, these situations have sometimes ended badly. This symposium seeks to shed some light on this issue through the lens of the police, as it focuses on how law enforcement can better serve this population.”

This program is being made available through the efforts of the Psychology and Education, Sociology and Human Services, and Criminal Justice departments at CCM. Also participating will be CCM’s Counseling and Student Success department. Following the presentation, the audience will have the opportunity to engage the presenters and others in conversation.