NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) The City of Northampton has received a $450,000 grant for the development of new civilian responses to some public safety calls including mental health and substance abuse cases.

“I am so grateful to the Department of Public Health, the State Legislature, and especially Senator Comerford for bringing this important source of funding back to life for Northampton,” said Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra.

The Department of Public Health’s Equitable Approach to Public Safety or EAPS grant program is funded by DPH to improve public safety outcomes and impact community and individual health.

Merridith O’Leary is the Health Commissioner, she said this new funding from the state will give them flexibility, “We might go from initially thinking of four community responders to maybe six community responders because we have a larger budget.”

“It has been my honor to help the Department of Public Health understand Northampton’s innovative approach here, and to help ensure there was funding to support it,” said Senator Jo Comerford.

State Senator Jo Comerford had a hand in expanding the grant program and helping Northampton become eligible for the funding. O’Leary said they will also look into vehicles for community responders, including accessible vehicles to help the new division respond to calls.

The money will be used for the new Northampton Department of Community Care, which will provide more kinds of responses including peer responses to public safety needs.