By Telawna Kirbie
The City of Waco now has a full-time social worker, DeAngela Bynum, at the Waco Police Department and employed by Prosper Waco. The goal of her work is to connect community members to much-needed social resources and supports as part of PW’s Waco Connect program.
Obviously, one person cannot do this for the entire community, so Prosper Waco has worked with police to choose a particular set of community individuals who will be offered Waco Connect services as a pilot program. This population includes community members who have multiple law enforcement interactions and those that have frequent Emergency Detention Orders (EDOs).
When we say, “multiple law enforcement contacts,” we are referring to those community members for which the police receive multiple calls for minor disturbances and infractions that may or may not warrant police intervention. Some people are the subject of multiple calls in one day and others over a period of weeks or months. These community members may benefit from accessing other social resources to support their overall physical and mental health.
The other subset of the population includes those who have multiple or frequent EDOs. An EDO is when a community member is in a mental health crisis and needs assessment for hospitalization but is not willing or able to go voluntarily. The police have the authority to take the individual into custody and take them to a facility to obtain a psychiatric assessment. Some of our community members find themselves in mental health crises frequently. Waco Connect will work with them to access the resources and supports necessary to reduce mental health crises and promote mental health.
DeAngela receives referrals from within the police department, completes a needs assessment, and then provides linkage and support in accessing, navigating, and obtaining the resources to help meet their needs. Waco Connect can continue to provide ongoing support for as long as needed for up to one year. The desired overall outcomes will be a reduction in law enforcement contacts, EDOs, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and medical costs as well as an increased level of overall physical and mental health.
Prosper Waco, the City, and the Waco Police Department are excited about what this program can provide as we partner together to provide more comprehensive support for our community members. Stay tuned for more information as we continue to grow and expand Waco Connect services.
Telawna Kirbie is director of behavioral health initiatives for Prosper Waco.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].