Camden, Rockland police collaboration aims for more effective diversion programs

Thu, 10/26/2023 - 9:15am

    CAMDEN and ROCKLAND — Volunteers of America (VOA) Northern New England developed a Diversion & Deflection Program and implemented a Community Liaison Officer (CLO) position in collaboration with Waldo County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) in 2019. Since adding a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) case manager to work regionally with the Waldo and Knox County Sheriff’s Offices (KCSO) in 2020 in conjunction with CLO program. In 2022, while Chief Carroll of the Rockland police department was still the Sheriff in Knox County, a federal grant was submitted to add two more CLOs to Knox and Waldo County under the Connect & Protect Grant. KCSO was awarded, VOA the partner to them in that grant which has been in planning phase over the last year and moving towards implementation of that grant over the next year, a position currently posted for the KCSO position on VOA website. Last year, WCSO, KCSO, and VOA extended the LEAD case manager to begin working specifically with the Rockland and Camden Police Departments to take referrals into the LEAD Program. Rockland and Camden Police Chiefs quickly saw the benefit of working with a CLO/LEAD case manager and moved towards collaborating to implement and share a full time CLO/LEAD case manager to work specifically with Camden and Rockland police. Additionally, they extended this position to begin taking referrals from the Rockport Police Department. County Sheriffs and local police departments Chiefs are taking an innovative approach to working together with VOA and other nonprofits for programs for those involved in the criminal justice system, promote overall public safety, address the needs of the community, and reduce the burden on law enforcement agencies on interacting with individuals who have high needs in the community.

    Maine’s criminal justice system has a lack of Diversion Programs and the staff to address the growing need for evidence- based and community-based treatment options for people experiencing substance use disorders (SUD) and mental health disorders (MHD). The WCSO CLO and LEAD Programs are providing these needed services to Waldo and Knox County residents to avoid engagements with law enforcement. The Department of Mental Health recognizes, “Jail diversion programs alleviate jail over-crowding, reduce the costs of treatment during incarceration, shrink dockets and decreases unnecessary prosecution.” CLO’s and LEAD case managers assist law enforcement to de-escalate and resolve conflict in the community and ideally help people experiencing SUD and MHD to avoid official contact with law enforcement. The presence of CLOs in county jails also helps to increase case management engagement to existing populations, creates easier paths to discharge, and develops better transitions to reentry programs and post-release services.

    Further expanding the CLO/LEAD program into working with local police departments like the Rockland and Camden police departments will allow for better pre-arrest interventions, reach more individuals who require SUD treatment, and where possible and appropriate divert and deflect individuals away from incarceration. VOA, Rockland, and Camden Police Departments believe expansion into working with local police department will also streamline the process for those entering the criminal justice system and offer them access to case management during their jail sentence. This will also enable continued care through our partner, VOA, to seamlessly enrolled in post-release services via their Second Chance grant program. In some cases, individuals may have the ability to stay with their LEAD case managers no matter where they are in the criminal justice system to provide continuity built upon lasting relationships.

    About Camden Police Department

    The Camden Police Department is an eleven-officer department serving the citizens of Camden. We are partners with our neighboring agency the Rockport Police Department. Our department focuses on all aspects of Law Enforcement services with an emphasis on Community Policing. As times have changed and resources have diminished, we are finding that our Law Enforcement duties have changed. We have gone from a proactive to reactive model of policing. Mental health issues, drug abuse, evictions, domestic violence, juvenile issues, those without housing, are some of the issues we are addressing on a regular basis. We are pleased to be working with Rockland Police Department and our new partner Volunteers of America to assist us in these quality-of-life issues. This collaboration will allow us to provide quality of life services at a much higher level.

    About Rockland Police Department

    Rockland Police Department is a community centered law enforcement agency serving the people of Rockland since 1854 and exists to improve the quality of life in the city by providing the highest quality of police service. We are the only police department in the State to have 100% of our officers certified in Community Policing. Rockland Police Chief Tim Carroll, as former Sheriff in Knox County, has been working collaboratively with Volunteers of America for the past several years on Diversion & Deflection efforts which has led to the partnership among Rockland Police Department, Camden Police Department and Volunteers of America.

    About Volunteers of America Northern New England

    Volunteers of America Northern New England is a national, non-profit, spiritually based organization providing human service programs and opportunities for individual and community involvement. VOA’s community justice programs consist of Diversion & Deflection efforts, programs for incarcerated individuals in Knox and Waldo counties, and post release services in Knox and Waldo counties. Those services include case management, substance use disorder counseling, recovery coaching, transportation services, and adding two efficient apartments for men leaving the reentry center in Waldo County. For more information on community justice programs email Director Community Justice Robyn Goff at To learn more about Volunteers of America, visit or call 207-373-1140.