Ashland Police welcome Jail Diversion Program clinician
Kirsten Quern is Ashland’s new Jail Diversion Program clinician. Source: www.ashlandmass.com
By Theresa Knapp
At its meeting on Jan. 3, the Ashland Select Board welcomed Kirsten Quern as the town’s new Jail Diversion Program clinician.
“The Jail Diversion Program has been an important component of our public safety strategy over many years,” said Town Administrator Michael Herbert at the meeting. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve had difficulty finding and retaining a JDP clinician so I’m pleased to say we do not have that issue any more and we’ve contracted with Riverside [Community Care] and we have Kirsten Quern here who has accepted that job.”
Chief of Police Cara Rossi said the Jail Diversion Program has always been a “pet project” of hers for more than 10 years. “It is such a vital program for literally every aspect of our community from children to the elderly and everyone in between.”
As way of explanation, Rossi said that, “On a typical day, she’ll cull through the log and see what transpired the night before and what she could follow up with. So, there was a resident who was having issues with domestic violence last week that she followed through with. There are a lot of people suffering from substance abuse disorder that Kirsten went to a home and assisted with…The hope with Kirsten is that she will cut down with the amount of calls for service because we will get people to the appropriate after-care or services that they need…we’re trying to solve the problem.”
Rossi said that Quern “has the time, the bandwidth, the knowledge, the experience, the training to follow up with these people…hopefully she’ll get them the services they need.”
Quern told the Select Board, “’Jail Diversion’ is a little bit of a misnomer in a way because it’s really ‘mobile crisis,’ and the ability to go to where the issues are happening and respond either in the moment or, as the Chief said, that follow-up piece of just making sure that we’re checking in and getting people connected because I know that the police officers don’t have the time for that.”
Quern is a licensed social worker and previously worked with Riverside in a mobile crisis role.
The position is grant-funded.