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New Montgomery Police Officer Trained in Alternative Responses to Reduce Instances of Violence and Escalation

By Barbara A. Preston | Posted March 23, 2024


Montgomery Police Director Silvio Bet welcomed a new officer — Matthew DeCataldo was appointed at the Township Committee meeting on March 21 with a salary of $80,434.


Police Officer Matthew DeCataldo

Probationary Montgomery Police Officer Matthew DeCataldo (right) with his fiancée at his swearing-in ceremony on March 21.


“Matthew brings a lot of training and experience to our police department,” Capt. Bet said. He has worked for the Seaside Heights PD and was recruited to Montgomery from the Holland Township PD in Hunterdon County.


Among DeCataldo’s training, Bet highlighted his Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) certification. The CIT program creates connections between law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency services, people with mental illness, and their families.


Montgomery is home to Carrier Clinic, the state’s largest not-for-profit behavioral health facility, specializing in inpatient psychiatric services for adolescents, adults and older adults, as well as inpatient and outpatient substance use disorder treatment services.


While CIT training may help with policing incidents related to Carrier, it aimed at achieving safer outcomes for all community stakeholders in all 21 of New Jersey’s counties, making New Jersey the first state in the country to have a statewide law enforcement and mental health alternative response program.


With DeCataldo on board, this brings the total number of CIT-certified officers in the Montgomery Police Department to three, Capt. Bet said. Montgomery has about 35 full-time officers in total.


“This a great asset, because we are actively pursuing participation in the county’s arrive Together program, where we can integrate mental health services into our community policing philosophy,” he said.


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ARRIVE Together Program

ARRIVE stands for Alternative Responses to Reduce Instances of Violence and Escalation.


In 2020, two out of every three uses of force by law enforcement in NJ involved a civilian suffering from mental health or substance abuse issues, according to NJ Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin.


“Over half of all fatal police encounters occurred in similar circumstances,” Platkin said. “These numbers were and are unacceptable.”


The Office of the Attorney General created ARRIVE, and is working to improve how law enforcement officials respond to people experiencing mental and behavioral health emergencies.


Franklin Township joined the ARRIVE Together community policing program in December, making it the first in Somerset County to participate. In partnership with Bridgeway Behavioral Health Services, the Franklin Township program is equipped with an officer and mental health clinician, sharing an office and vehicle, and providing initial and follow up responses for outreach services. ■

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