The Norlina Police Department has partnered with locally based nonprofit organization JJS Peer Services to connect community residents with mental health and substance abuse counseling services at no cost. Police Chief Keishawn Mayes anticipates that the program will begin on Nov. 15.

Police Chief Keishawn Mayes said that he has been collaborating with JJS over the past year in order to make the free services possible. He noted that while JJS will accept private insurance, grant funding will allow community residents without insurance to receive services free of charge.

JJS has assisted Warren County residents in a number of ways. In 2020, the organization partnered with Warren County Cooperative Extension, Warrenton nonprofit Working Landscapes and other county agencies and organizations to distribute meals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayes noted that JJS has also provided assistance to the homeless.

He believes that the partnership with JJS Peer Services is a natural fit for the police department.

“Substance abuse and mental health have a direct correlation with the work of the police department,” Mayes said. “We have a sense of duty to offer these services to the community.”

Anyone who needs mental health or substance abuse services may call the Norlina Police Department at 252-456-3401 or visit the police station at Town Hall, 139 Hyco St., Norlina. The police department will make the connection with JJS, which  will then evaluate each individual and connect him or her with needed services.

Mayes sees the police department role in the partnership as providing the connection between a local resident and counseling services.

“The Norlina Police Department will bridge the gap to help people get the services they need,” he said.

For Mayes and the police department, helping community residents obtain mental health and substance abuse counseling at no cost to them is especially important because the cost may be the factor prohibiting some people from obtaining the services that would allow them to live active lives.

He hopes that anyone who needs the services will reach out to the police department. People with family members in need of substance abuse or mental health counseling are also encouraged to contact the police department.

“We want to give people an option that is not available in the community at this time and should have been available for a long time,” Mayes said. “Our goal is to get you the services you need. It doesn’t matter how you contact us. Just contact us so you can get the services you need.”

He views the partnership as a way to make the Norlina community better.

“I hope the partnership encourages people to get more involved to utilize these services,” Mayes said. “The only way we can get better as a community is if we all do it together.”