In Alexandria, Kentucky, a new law enforcement strategy is creating change.
The police department in Alexandria has just 17 police officers. Though the demands on the department are rising, funds are not. The department needed to find a solution to respond better to increasing demands without breaking the bank.
So, the department hired a new social worker to work alongside officers. This saved money since hiring and equipping a new officer would have been costly. They intended the strategy to “provide expertise and immediately connect people in crisis to needed services,” and it did.
The social worker they hired, Kelly Pompilio, is the first police social worker in Kentucky. Unlike the average social worker, Pompilio works with police right as crises happen, instead of waiting for police to reach out to her for her help after the fact:
I’m more the second responder, so the officer responds first… But I try to assist the family in whatever services they need so they don’t have to, whenever they’re having a crisis, or having a situation where they need law enforcement, they don’t have to call 911.Kelly Pompilio
Pompilio has been working at the department for four years now. Today, the department also employs a second social worker.
The police chief who was behind Pompilio’s hiring four years ago was Mike Ward. Today, he is retired. He said that her hiring meant immediate financial and social results:
It was close to a $45,000 to $50,000 annual savings from hiring a police officer the first time to hiring a social worker. [Police social workers] started solving problems for people in our community and for our agency that we’ve never been able to solve before.Mike Ward
According to the police department, the number of 911 calls from repeat sources has dropped. Also, the number of individuals heading to jail is down by about 15%.
Ward thinks that the small city of Alexandria could serve as an example for larger cities, such as Louisville.
Article source: WAVE 3 News
Featured image source: James Dobson