Sarah Abbott, Ph.D., serves in the role of Jail Diversion Program (JDP) Director at Advocates. Dr. Abbott helped the Framingham Police Department launch the state's first Co-Response Jail Diversion Program in 2003, working as the Framingham Co-Response Clinician for several years. Dr. Abbott has since replicated the model in over 15 police agencies in the Commonwealth; her experience and knowledge of pre-arrest, police-based jail diversion programming is recognized nationally. Dr. Abbott was the first recipient of the Department of Mental Health’s annual Outstanding Performance in Police/Mental Health Collaborations in 2016. Dr. Abbott received Department on Mental Health funding a little over a year ago to launch the country’s first Co-Response Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC) based in Boxborough, MA.
In addition to her work at Advocates, Dr. Abbott serves as an Associate Professor in the Justice Studies Department at Lasell College. Dr. Abbott’s research has focused on evaluating the impact of the Advocates Co-Response Jail Diversion model on police officer attitudes towards the mentally ill. The findings of her research reveal that officers working in those departments with Co-Response programs report greater tolerance and acceptance of mentally ill persons living in their communities and more strongly endorse their role in managing persons with mental illness than their counterparts in non- jail diversion program departments (Abbott, S. 2011; Abbott, S. 2017).