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Stamford receives federal funding to hire another social worker to the police force

crying mental health
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The U.S. Justice Department has awarded a three-year, $550,000 grant to the city of Stamford to pay for a second social worker to be embedded with the city’s police department. The goal is to improve how Stamford Police respond to calls about mental health and substance use.

Ted Jankowski, the city’s director of public safety, said police may cause more harm than good if the call involves someone experiencing a mental health issue.

“It could be intimidating to somebody who is having a mental health episode or an incident," he said. "They come in with a ballistic protective vest and they do have weapons that they have so reducing the number of calls has benefited the community and benefited these individuals who have these mental health issues.”

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said the pandemic has exacerbated the problem.

“Being a cop has never been more important or more difficult. As we go through this pandemic, all of these mental health and substance abuse challenges require new skills and different training," Blumenthal said.

The social worker who works alongside police will be able to provide residents experiencing a mental health or substance use problem with referrals for treatment.

The city has also required its police force to undergo more training in how to provide assistance when responding to mental health calls.

John is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.