The Kansas City Missouri Police Department has secured funding to embed a social worker at all six of our patrol division stations.
The Hall Family Foundation is providing $640,000, and the City of Kansas City is matching that with $470,000 to fund six social workers and a program coordinator for the next three years. The social workers’ primary function is to provide support and act as a resource for officers through community outreach, support and service referrals.
As I said in an earlier post, we are willing to forge nontraditional partnerships that work to decrease crime in our city. People who don’t have their basic needs met will always look for alternative means. The KCPD is striving to assist with those alternative means, as opposed to criminal means.
A board member of the Police Foundation of Kansas City had a connection to a board member of the Hall Family Foundation. Through that, our current social worker, Gina English, and I were able to present the police department’s proposal. We are so glad the Hall Family Foundation chose to fund this project and that the City realized its worth and is providing matching funding. I truly believe this will have a significant impact on crime in our community, and I’m excited to see what this public-private partnership can accomplish.
We aim to have the social workers in place by early March. They will work out of patrol division stations, attend weekly crime meetings and communicate regularly with officers about residents in need of assistance, especially early intervention for at-risk youth.
The goals of the social worker program are to:
As I’ve said, there are a lot of people dealing with issues in Kansas City that are frankly not the job of police to address: family problems, poverty, addiction and more. But those very issues are what create crime problems in our community. Social workers can address such issues in a way that brings lasting, positive change. For example, Gina English, the social worker who pioneered our program at Central Patrol Division, did more to stop the problem of youth congregating on the Country Club Plaza and becoming destructive and violent than police ever could. She really talked to the teens there and then created a diversion and citizenship program for them.
Gina will serve as the coordinator for the expanded program. The new social workers will be expected to continue her work with juveniles in detention and in Municipal Court as well as building a diverse network of community resources. They also always must maintain KCPD’s duty to protect and serve the entire community, placing public safety above all.
A job description for these contract positions will be posted soon. In the meantime, interested persons with a degree in social work can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post was originally published on January 29, 2017 at KCPD Chief’s Blog.