Two more social workers began working last month alongside police in Lower Bucks, growing the county’s efforts to divert people in need of social services away from the criminal justice system.
The appointments of Fetiye “Tia” Kazee and Keevon Johnson as co-responders brings the services of the Human Services Co-Responders program to Bristol Township, Bristol Borough and Tullytown Borough.
“We are so fortunate to partner with police leadership to bring our co-responder initiative to three more communities,” said Rachael Neff, director of the county’s Human Services Division. “Keevon and Tia are excellent additions to our ever-growing Human Services Co-Responder team.”
Co-responders work in collaboration with agencies in the county’s criminal justice system, like police and prosecutors, as well as social services agencies that assist with issues related to aging, substance abuse and mental health.
PHOTO: Fetiye "Tia" Kazee, second from left, and Keevon Johnson, second from right, were hired last month to work as Human Services Co-Responders alongside police in Bristol Township, Bristol Borough and Tullytown Borough. Kazee and Johnson are pictured here outside the Bristol Township Police Department flanked by Bristol Township Police Chief Robert Coulton, left, and Bristol Borough Police Chief Joe Moors, right.
As of late April, the program is now operating in six municipalities, with co-responders also working with police in Bensalem Township, Falls Township and Middletown Township.
Kazee and Johnson both start their new positions at a salary of $59,000. The county has agreed to fund each co-responder position for two years.
“We are looking forward to working with the co-responders here in Bristol Borough,” said borough police Chief Joe Moors. “The program will be an asset to our community.”
The county launched the co-responder program in December 2020 with its pilot initiative in Bensalem.
A review of the program’s first year showed a trending decline in the average amount of time Bensalem police spent responding to social services calls. Of the 18 cases involving co-responders where an arrest was possible, more than half saw people diverted from further contact with the criminal justice system.
In that year, the co-responders had assisted 212 people and made referrals to 77 agencies.
“Keevon and Tia are highly qualified for these positions, and we are thrilled to have them on the team,” said Bristol Township police Lt. Ralph Johnson. “There is maximum potential for success as we move forward with this addition to our policing toolbox.”
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