Sergeant Jason Wetherby of St Albans City Police was presented the Team Two Frank Silfies Award on January 31, 2018, a date shared with Mental Health Advocacy Day. The Team Two Frank Silfies Award, created in 2015 and awarded annually, is presented to a law enforcement officer and a mental health crisis clinician who work collaboratively to respond to mental health crises.
Josh Cate, crisis service specialist for law enforcement at Northwestern Counseling & Support Services (NCSS), nominated Wetherby for the award in 2017. Cate was hired at NCSS in 2014 and has worked with Wetherby as an embedded clinician for nearly three years. The partnership NCSS shares with St Albans City Police is a special one, created from the ground up in 2015 with help from Act 79 funding. “At its base, the model is about collaborating with others to ensure safety for the community,” says Todd Bauman, executive director of NCSS.
Cate has over twenty years of experience working in human services, providing him with a unique lens for viewing incidents in the field and for recognizing individuals who truly understand how to approach challenging occurrences. Wetherby recognizes the value of the law enforcement/clinician model, and he has worked to assure its growth and utilization over the years. “Sergeant Wetherby assists in facilitating the acquisition of mental health resources in efforts to create a supportive and positive outcome,” says Cate.
Wetherby says the knowledge gained–like being able to recognize the signs of an individual experiencing a mental health crisis–has been invaluable. “The training we get from working collaboratively has been priceless. I can see the difference across the department,” Wetherby says.
It can be challenging to demonstrate the efficacy of a program that is, by nature, aimed at prevention. When two lenses–law enforcement and clinical–can focus on an incident together, critical situations can often be mitigated. Wetherby notes that law enforcement is often called first because individuals may not know who else to call. A law enforcement approach may be the most fitting in certain situations; however, other events may be better handled by a mental health clinician, like Josh, who can make connections to others at NCSS and manage the follow-through. It takes a collaborative team of workers and a keen sense of psychological and emotional needs to recognize the difference. “[Wetherby’s] level of collaboration with NCSS to seek effective outcomes for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis has been above and beyond his scope of duty,” says Cate.
“We’ve seen better outcomes based on the collaboration,” Wetherby says. “Everyone in the department is moving forward in the right direction.”
Wetherby has worked for the St Albans City Police for thirteen years. He notes the program is not perfect, but he is optimistic that the collaboration efforts will continue to improve in the future.
“It was a surprise and an honor to receive this award,” says Wetherby.
Photo: NCSS file photo, caption: Josh Cate pictured with Sergeant Jason Wetherby