I've written about the increase in mental illness related police calls and our efforts to collaborate with our community partners like homeless outreach, social services, public defenders, prosecutors and courts to improve our response. Through partnering with others, we created a successful community intervention group (CIG) to deal with habitual offenders who often suffer from chemical dependency and mental illness. These collaborative efforts are paying off with results, but there is still room for improvement. Police officers are on the front line of helping those with mental illness in our community and we're often involved with complex issues that officers have little or no control over due to lack of available resources and the nature of our system.
Last year, I began talking with others about embedding a social worker in the police department to work closely with our staff and focus on people suffering from mental illness, severe chemical dependency and homelessness that our officers are dealing with daily. The embedded social worker would use their knowledge of the social service network, civil court system and appropriate treatment options to improve our response.
We are still in the design phase of this initiative and are searching for a funding stream. It is my hope to have this effort up and running in the second half of the year.