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Editorial: Law enforcement and mental health professionals a good team

Editorial: Law enforcement and mental health professionals a good team

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Walworth County health workers are teaming up with local law enforcement agencies to help provide mental health care to people who may need such services.

That is a good combination and it’s a model that should be encouraged and spread throughout the county, state and beyond.

Officials from the Walworth County Department of Health and Human Services are piloting the Embedded Crisis Liaison Program, in which a community crisis liaison responds to the scene of a police call and assists people who may need mental health support.

The program was started with the Delavan Police Department in February and will be expanded to the Whitewater Police Department this month.

Officers usually respond to the scene first then call the liaison worker once they feel the scene is safe for them to work and the person in need is willing to talk to them.

Delavan Police Chief James Hansen said the county health department representative has assisted officers already on calls related to possible child abuse, mental anxiety and student behavioral issues.

The county worker talks with the person and determines what their concerns are then refers them to the appropriate services available in the community.

After each call, the county worker follows up with the people from the scene to determine if they are in need of further assistance.

Whitewater’s crisis liaison worker is currently being trained by Delavan’s liaison worker.

Whitewater Police Chief Aaron Raap is also excited about the program.

“It takes our resources, our knowledge and our training and just really multiplies it,” Raap said.

Raap, who previously worked for the Milwaukee Police Department for about 26 years, said Milwaukee has offered a crisis liaison program for about 20 years, and other law enforcement agencies in the state are starting to develop similar programs.

The Walworth County department of health and human services hopes to establish the program with other law enforcement agencies throughout the county in the future.

That sounds like a great idea. This partnership is a great use of resources for both the law enforcement agencies and the county’s department of human services.

The more we can do to help get people in need the right resources, the better. And hopefully with time, there can be fewer calls for service as people receive the help they need.

The Regional News editorial board consists of General Manager Robert Ireland, Editor Stephanie Jones and community members Patrick Quinn and Elizabeth Lupo DiVito.

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