LYNNFIELD — The Police Department’s Community Outreach Team is working to provide mental health and substance use support services to residents who need them, Chief Nick Secatore said during the Select Board’s June 3 meeting.

Secatore said Captain Chris DeCarlo formed the Community Outreach Team a year ago. He said the team consists of DeCarlo, Patrolman James Caponigro, Patrolman Franco Pisano and contracted psychologist Dr. Jennifer Burns. He said DeCarlo talked with him about the possibility of the Police Department working with a clinician last year.

“It’s not a new idea, but we struggle with staffing in town and we struggle with funding in town,” said Secatore. “He funded it through grants at no cost to the town. We are doing this in partnership with A Healthy Lynnfield and the Board of Health. Even though this is a Police Department initiative, it is not something the Police Department did alone. It’s outstanding.”

Secatore said the Community Outreach Team identifies people who need services after incidents are reported to the Police Department.

“It could be mental health services or could be substance use services,” said Secatore.  “The team goes out, they identify these folks and give them information. But if the team doesn’t hear from them, they go see them with Dr. Burns.”

Secatore said the Community Outreach Team has been working to help residents who need assistance. He said the team recently helped a resident struggling with substance use get into a rehabilitation facility.

“This is someone who has been struggling for a long time and hasn’t been able to get there,” said Secatore. “A lot of work went into it, and the team got them there. While they were at the address, we received a call about a gentleman who was in serious mental distress. We had transported this person to the hospital the day before. With the clinician-to-clinician interface, that person is getting better services today.”

Secatore said Burns does not ride in a police cruiser to calls, and instead speaks with people in-person afterwards as a follow-up

“Dr. Burns won’t say no,” said Secatore.

Secatore said DeCarlo, Caponigro, Pisano and Burns each play “unique roles” with the Community Outreach Team.

“Dr. Burns and Officer Caponigro really are the workhorses,” said Secatore. “They are happy to help people with outreach. The success they have had is beyond anything we could have imagined.”

DeCarlo said Substance Use Prevention Coordinator Peg Sallade helped him apply for a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health in order to get the Community Outreach Team off the ground.

“We made brochures and have a website that contains links to all of the different services,” said DeCarlo. “I went to different houses to hand out brochures after determining which calls needed follow-up.”

DeCarlo said Caponigro has “done a great job with outreach.”

“We are very fortunate to have him run this program,” said DeCarlo.

DeCarlo said he reached out to different police departments and Essex County Outreach before forming the Community Outreach Team. According to its website, “Essex County Outreach (ECO) is a collaborative effort among the 34 police departments within Essex County and the Essex County Sheriff Department” that work in partnership with mental health and substance use support organizations.

“I was able to meet Dr. Burns and we started working with her through Essex County Outreach,” said DeCarlo. “We found a way to hire her on a contracted basis using some opioid settlement money. She has been great to work with. She definitely goes above and beyond. She has a different lens on how we look at things. She might have a different idea that could actually get a person the assistance that they need or help us make a decision.”

DeCarlo said the Community Outreach Team has “really taken off.”

“It’s science-based and it works,” said DeCarlo. “It has been a lot of work. Everybody is wearing different hats, but we are happy to do it. It has been successful. I think it has been a tremendous benefit for the town and the department.”

Burns concurred with DeCarlo’s viewpoint.

“It has been an honor to go on these calls with the officers,” said Burns. “We have made some calls that are not related to mental health or substance use. I want to thank the Select Board for allowing me to work with the officers and the town of Lynnfield to help the community.”

Burns also said the Community Outreach Team has called some residents dealing with other challenges such as a family impacted by a house fire.

“We wanted to let them know that the town cares,” said Burns.

Caponigro said the Community Outreach Team has also been dealing with “a lot of elder issues.”

“We had no experience with that before,” said Caponigro. “Greater Lynn Senior Services has been very good with helping us get the paths that people need to take, but it has expanded more quickly than we thought it was going to be. Some of these sit downs at the table can take two or three hours before someone will agree there is an issue and need to go a step further. It’s doing good work, and I am happy with it.”

Select Board Chair Dick Dalton said he and his wife, Carmela, recently attended an event hosted by the Metro Boston Crisis Intervention Center, which has been supporting the Community Outreach Team. He said DeCarlo received an award at the event.   

“I am so impressed,” said Dalton. “I had the pleasure of sitting next to Dr. Burns at the dinner, and my wife and I talked with her for the entire time to learn about the work being done. It’s a great program and a proven program. Winthrop Police Chief John Goodwin was telling me how his predecessor, Chief Delehanty, put this program together a while ago. I am very proud of the job Chris has done and for taking the initiative to put this in place. I see some real benefits coming from this. Congratulations to all of you.”

Secatore said the Police Department and the other team members were “excited” that DeCarlo received the award.

Moving forward, Secatore said the Police Department will be requesting funding from the town to support the Community Outreach Team.

“The grant is not going to fund it forever,” said Secatore. “We think the program is meaningful and the services we are offering are so far beyond what we were able to offer in the past. It’s clear that this should be a permanent model and we continue to build on it.”

DeCarlo agreed.

“The sustainability factor does come into play, but we are continuously applying for grants with Peg’s help,” said DeCarlo.

The meeting’s attendees gave the Community Outreach Team a round of applause after the presentation concluded.

For more information about the Community Outreach Team, visit