The Peru community will get 24/7 assistance when it comes to crises that involve substance use and/or mental-illness — at no extra cost to the taxpayer.

Monday night, the Peru City Council approved an agreement for the police department to work with Arukah Institute of Healing of Princeton when it comes to officers responding to these types of emergencies.

The partnership is possible due to the recently announced $4 million grant awarded to St. Margaret’s Health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grant right now goes for the next two years. 

Arukah’s workers will work side by side with Peru officers to respond appropriately. 

The agreement makes these services possible: mobile crisis intervention teams, critical incident stress management, emergency department diversion, jail diversion, early intervention/prevention, non-emergency, wellness visits/follow-up, non-emergency drop-offs to Living Room (location meant to deescalate situations), backup for safety; and officer and first responder wellness.


Peru Police Department officers will work with Arukah Institute of Healing CC to refer individuals to the Arukah for Living Room services, outpatient counseling/behavioral health, peer support, care coordination services, peer support services, and reentry and/or recovery-oriented services.

The Peru Police Department and the Arukah will work together to track and identify through data-driven means candidates that would benefit from non-emergency, early intervention/prevention services as a means to prevent an escalated crisis or a wellness visit/follow-Up within 24-48 hours after a crisis emergency response incident. Arukah will track and follow up on referral appointments and will schedule consultation or CC meeting between partners as needed. 

Bureau, Marshall, Putnam counties have some of the highest suicide rates in the state, with La Salle County not far behind, said Linda Burt, VP of Quality & Community Services for St. Margaret's Health. The last 18 months have been trying in healthcare; the pandemic has accentuated the need to assist behavioral health issues; social isolation has been devastating for all age groups. 

Alderman Aaron Buffo called the program “priceless.” 

Buffo, a former police officer, said he needed assistance at one point but had no idea where to go, for years he just “sucked it in,” and it got worse and worse until he got assistance and worked through it and now is better.

“You don’t know everything is going to be fine when you’re in the middle of it,” Buffo said.

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