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Embedded Counselors on the Job With Police Officers in Walworth County

May 8, 2021 12:45p

(WGTD)---A Walworth County pilot program that embedded two social workers within a pair of police departments this year is said to be doing well.

Full-time counselors now have desks in police stations in Delavan and Whitewater. One is a seasoned crisis specialist while the other has prior experience in law enforcement.

Speaking on WGTD’s Morning Show, Walworth County crisis program supervisor Sonia Hill said the counselors work side-by-side with officers in the field on calls that involve mental health or substance abuse issues. Hill says there’s been no lack of work. "When we actually embedded these two positions we were pretty surprised that there was so much work from the mental health and substance abuse disorder...perspective that law enforcement just kind of managed (in the past)," she said.

Hill says the counselors and police officers are learning from each other. "The community crisis liaison is learning from law enforcement (about) their struggles with their side and the law enforcement officers are learning from the community crisis liaison," Hill said. 

The counselors don’t respond with officers when there’s a potential, imminent public safety threat.

The Racine Police Department has been among the law enforcement agencies that are considering establishing similar embed programs.

The Walworth County program is funded by a grant.

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