The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with local governments to create a police social work program for police departments countywide.
The groundbreaking program, developed in cooperation with the Sheriff’s Office, the McHenry County Board, and the McHenry County Mental Health Board, will support police officers with full-time police social workers to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and the county’s network of social service providers.
The Sheriff’s Office created a police social work program in 2017 in an effort to alleviate law enforcement’s responses to mental health-related calls for service. The Police Social Work Program developed into a successful collaboration between law enforcement and direct service providers. Sheriff Bill Prim said he looks forward to this new cooperative program benefiting the entire county.
The program will consist of several police social workers who will support participating police departments during mental health-related calls. Social workers will connect residents to resources, such as direct social service providers, and conduct follow-ups with cases and clients. Additionally, an on-call police social worker will be available to assist officers, 24 hours a day, for phone consultation or direct response when major mental health crises arise.
A temporary incubator space will be used within The Community Foundation for McHenry County Philanthropy Center. This space will be used for program development, training, and administrative office space.
All McHenry County police departments are offered the opportunity to participate in the program. Funding will come from participating police departments, the County Board and the Mental Health Board.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest among local police agencies to be able to help facilitate positive outcomes when it comes to mental health-related police calls,” County Board Chairman Mike Buehler, R-Crystal Lake, said. “This program will not only connect people needing mental health assistance with McHenry County’s deep network of social service agencies, but also will strengthen the bonds between the public and the men and women of law enforcement.”