Social workers win praise for handling calls normally covered by LMPD

Social workers win praise for handling calls normally covered by LMPD
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 5:22 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Mayor Craig Greenberg announced the expansion of a program using social workers to respond to certain types of calls traditionally handled by police.

The Crisis Call Diversion Program (CCDP) provides mental health and crisis intervention via phone and in person.

Starting a year ago in just one LMPD division, the program grew steadily until Tuesday, when Greenberg announced expansion into two of LMPD’s remaining divisions.

“It gets people the right help at the right time,” Greenberg said. “And it saves police resources so that our officers can focus on preventing violent crime.”

According to Seven Counties Services, which staffs the CCDP, social workers and others so far have taken 1,192 calls and responded on location to a person in crisis 424 times.

Seven Counties Services said 600 people have been assisted, saving LMPD 354 hours of work.

“The results were so positive, it was expanded to some other divisions,” Greenberg said. “And word has gotten out. Our team has now seen people calling 911 saying, ‘I don’t need police. I don’t need emergency services. I want to talk to somebody from deflection.’”

Administrators said the numbers would be bigger, but a shortage of social workers is slowing the program’s growth.

“We are looking for individuals who have skills in de-escalation, so they may not necessarily be licensed social workers, license counselors,” Jean Romano, Seven Counties Services Adult Services VP said. “They have experience staying calm in a crisis.”

Greenberg said funding will be included in his upcoming budget to continue CCDP expansion.

CCDP currently offers mobile services eight hours a day.

The plan is to expand to 24 hours if funding and staffing allow.