Union Health Foundation, United Way of the Wabash Valley, and the Wabash Valley Community Foundation are partnering with Terre Haute Police Department (THPD) to launch an innovative pilot program incorporating an embedded social worker into the department.
The program aims to reduce the number of repeat calls and welfare checks the department receives while connecting individuals in need with services in the community. The public-private partnership involving all four entities funds the program for three years.
The program was developed to address the community’s changing needs as recognized by the THPD. A significant portion of calls received by THPD are service calls involving officers as facilitators for mental health and welfare checks. THPD averages over 3,000 of these calls per year, with more than 500 being repeat location calls. Calls of this nature include welfare checks, suicide attempts, mental health crises, loitering, and overdoses.
Union Health Foundation, United Way of the Wabash Valley, and the Wabash Valley Community Foundation recognized this as a special granting opportunity for the Terre Haute Police Department to implement a 3-year pilot program to hire a social worker to assist in addressing mental health-related calls. This program has been successful in Bloomington, Indiana in getting the necessary assistance for those needing help while reducing the number of mental health calls to police. Each organization has committed funding for three years.
“The opportunity to bring on a social worker to the Terre Haute Police Department is something that I knew that our community needed since learning about the success in Bloomington,” said Shawn Keen, Chief of the Terre Haute Police Department. “By providing this resource through our department, we will be able to serve our citizens better and connect them to resources that are typically beyond the scope of a police officer’s duty and allows our officers to focus on the safety of our community.”
The social worker position will be a proactive and community-minded approach to assist with the needed resources and decrease the need for public safety service calls. The social worker will not be responding to active situations but will be a resource for officers to utilize after a call.
“This partnership is a win for our community,” Joel Harbaugh, President of Union Health Foundation, said. “For all of these organizations to join together for the good of the community to support this program we need is remarkable. Collaboration is needed to bring ideas to fruition, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact this program can have on the health and wellness of our community members.”
“The needs of the community have changed over time and we need to be able to adapt to meet them,” said Abby Desboro, Co-Executive Director of the United Way of the Wabash Valley. “This partnership is evidence of both unique solutions and community collaboration. We are going beyond doing the same thing and finding new programs we can bring to our area. And by our organizations embracing this unique opportunity to invest in this pilot program we are able to put in the resources needed for an effective 3-year launch and measure the results to track the change for our community.”
“The Community Foundation is pleased to partner with the Terre Haute Police Department, Union Health Foundation and the United Way of the Wabash Valley in offering this program in Terre Haute,” said Beth Tevlin, President and CEO of the Wabash Valley Community Foundation. “This is but one example of how our community can better address its challenges through collaborative efforts. Funding this position over the course of three years is an opportunity for the City of Terre Haute and the Terre Haute Police Department to initiate and integrate a successful program to improve the condition of its residents and the demands upon our police officers while significantly limiting the cost to taxpayers.”
In addition to supporting the community, the social worker has the secondary benefit of helping public safety personnel. The social worker will be an additional resource to the Terre Haute Police Department to assist in the mental health needs of the officers.
They will also be available to offer immediate assistance to police officers needing mental health services after a traumatic incident.
The Terre Haute Police Department is hiring for the social worker position and hopes to have someone in place in July. The qualifications include a master’s degree and an Indiana social work licensure. For more information on the position and program, contact the Terre Haute Police Department at 812-238-1661.