Police Action Counseling Team (PACT)

PACT provides crisis intervention to children who witness or have been victims of violence, to reduce trauma and to ultimately interrupt the cycle of family violence.

Historically, Chelsea has had high rates of child abuse and child neglect reports to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and high violence-related injuries in the community. Youth and family violence emerged as the main area of concern for the Chelsea community during a health assessment process completed by CCHI in 1996. In response, the Community Health Improvement Team of MGH Chelsea developed programs, including PACT, to address and prevent such violence in its earliest stages. 

The goals of PACT (the Police Action Counseling Team), a partnership between MGH Chelsea and the Chelsea Police Department, are to facilitate the healing process and to strengthen the resiliency of children. Clinical social workers from MGH Chelsea are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for immediate, on-the-scene response to 911 calls of potential domestic violence when children are present. Once police officers establish physical safety, the social workers provide on-site, developmentally appropriate interventions and psycho-education to help children express their feelings and concerns, through outlets such as drawing and the use of puppets, to manage symptoms of trauma. The team assists child victims and their families in finding constructive means to reestablish stability after a traumatic event. In addition to direct services, PACT provides training to MGH psychology and social work interns, MGH psychiatry residents, and Harvard Medical School students, also offering them opportunities to ride with police officers as part of their training experience.

The Police Action Counseling Team (PACT) is an police-mental health  partnership which teams a mental health clinician with Chelsea Police officers to provide clinical intervention to children.  Officers are trained to identify children (and sometimes other vulnerable persons) at the scenes of police calls where they are victims of or witnesses to violence or other trauma. The goal of PACT interventions is to lessen the impact of traumatic experiences on the health and mental health of these children. Swift interventions aim to facilitate children’s active participation in their own well-being, promote resilience and to increase parental knowledge of the symptoms and longer term effects of trauma.

2014 Outcomes:

  • Chelsea police officers collaborated with PACT clinicians on 69 cases of 90 children. 10% of these children were injured in the incident, and all children received medical care.
  • Among these cases, 32% had reports of suspected abuse or neglect (51-A’s) (99% filed by police); 64% of cases were directly related to domestic violence and 43% of cases had a history of domestic violence; 20% of cases had an emergency restraining order obtained.
  • Of the PACT cases 26% were face-to-face;  94% resulted in Safety Planning.
  • 71 referrals were made to families: 30% of cases were referred to HAVEN services, and 32% were made to mental health services.
  • PACT participated in monthly CASA DIVERT meetings, and in monthly CSAP (Child Sexual Abuse Partnership) meetings at the Children’s Advocacy Center, Boston.

  • PACT participated in training Harvard Medical Students who rotate through MGH chelsea Health Center's Pediatrics Department, orienting them to PACT, bringing them to a case review meeting at the police station, and arranging for a police ride along.

  • Trained two new police officers who joined the Chelsea Police Department in Child Development-Community Policing principles and in how to access PACT services.

Luz Betancourt

Phone: 617 887-3789