MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont State Police has its first director of mental health programs to help coordinate and oversee the delivery of mental health services to people who come into contact with state police, officials said.
Mourning Fox, who was deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Mental Health for the last four years and has more than 25 years of experience in the field, was named to the position, the Department of Public Safety and state police announced last week.
“This is a crucial position within the Department of Public Safety and for the Vermont public safety community as we pursue short-, medium- and long-term goals with respect to mental health response and reimagining policing and safety services,” DPS Commissioner Michael Schirling said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to welcome someone with the breadth and depth of experience that Mourning brings to this position.”
Fox, who joined the department on Aug. 30, will work with the state police’s 10 barracks and the Department of Mental Health to complete hiring. He will also ensure each field station has at least one embedded mental health crisis specialist and that training is consistent, officials said. In the long term, he will help the Public Safety Department reimagine how police provide services to people who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder crisis, or who have other unmet social service needs, officials said.
“There are many models of alternative response to these types of issues under development around the nation and the world, and each model has its own usefulness,” Fox wrote in a statement.
Fox has held positions as director of the maximum security inpatient forensic units at Bridgewater State Hospital in Massachusetts, and is a 2009 graduate and class president of the Plymouth Police Academy’s basic reserve academy. He has been trained and certified by the FBI as a crisis negotiator and has various other certifications.