The Jeffersontown Police Department is receiving a $250,000 federal grant, providing them with two social workers that will be embedded within the department.
JEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. — “Long overdue” and a “step in the right direction” are a few words Jeffersontown Police Chief Rick Sanders used to describe a new program coming to his department.
“This will allow the officer to have someone with the expertise to take those victims or those addicted to get treatment or assistance,” Sanders said.
The Jeffersontown Police Department is receiving a $250,000 federal grant, providing them with two social workers that will be embedded within the department. Sanders said the program will assist officers in responding to mental health calls; an area that Sanders said is not his department’s expertise.
“We are really trained to investigate crime and arrest bad guys but we aren’t social workers. It’s taken us years to realize social workers are a necessity to law enforcement,” he said.
Sanders said some of the biggest obstacles his department faces are dealing with people who are battling mental illness or have a drug dependency. His hope is that this program will ultimately reduce crime in the area and reduce jail capacity.
“We are putting far too many people in jail, we need to get those with mental health in the hospital,” Sanders said.
These social workers will be utilized on an as-needed basis. Officers will respond to calls, and then call social workers if needed. Sanders made it clear that the social workers will not be replacing officers nor will they be responding to calls alone.
Currently, Jeffersontown police officers receive CIT training or Crisis Intervention Training. This training teaches officers how to diffuse certain situations, but does not focus on responding to mental health calls.
The grant will expire at the end of 2022. At that time, Jeffersontown Police will have to re-apply for the grant or ask the city of Jeffersontown to invest in the program.
“It’s the future, it really is. I’m just sad it took us so long to realize it,” he said.
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