Clinton Township to explore social work assistance in policing

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office JSO generic police lights (WJXT)

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – The Clinton Township Police Department supports a study up for approval by the Township Board of Trustees, to determine if engaging social workers can help better serve the community by providing support for their officers in the field.

Trustee Laura Cardamone, a social worker who owns a private practice counseling center in Clinton Township, initiated a $25,000 study funded by a federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), dollars provided to the Township annually.

The study is designed to be a deep dive into how social workers can support responding police officers in situations that require or would benefit from additional personal or community support. A needs assessment will likely transition into the development of a working program.

Other police departments across Metro Detroit and the US have worked on similar collaborations between police and social workers.

Related: Canton Police Department receives approval for embedded social worker program

More related content: Collaboration with police divides social workers across US

Read more: Social workers will go with Livonia police on mental health crisis calls

“As a trained social worker and former victim’s rights advocate with the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, I see where behavioral or mental health struggles far too often overwhelm and escalate,” said Cardamone. “Departments around the country are seeing reductions in re-occurrence calls, and increases in treatment referrals, for things like substance abuse, trauma, and mental health disorders after implementing this type of program.”

While police officers are professionally trained, social workers have training that can help prevent harmful incidents from re-occurring.

“In Clinton Township, we have highly trained officers in the areas of investigating and fighting crimes, securing the scene, and de-escalating tensions,” said newly appointed Clinton Township police chief Bruce Wade. “We’re open to exploring a type of partnership with professional social workers who can work with our community and better recognize the underlying issues that often tie up our officers and overwhelm the resources of our department,” he said.

Wade went on to say the police department sees the study as a possible opportunity to further service to the community without changing the response to crime.

If approved, Cardamone envisions developing a small committee or work-group involving police officers, Township administrators, and policymakers to outline the process and define the scope of the study.