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Social workers could soon work with Buffalo police

Posted at 9:26 PM, Jul 06, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Social workers could soon work alongside officers in the Buffalo Police Department.

Buffalo police officers have been undergoing crisis intervention training for several years, according to Captain Jeff Rinaldo on Monday. He says officers are learning techniques to help handle situations with people in crisis, including mental health, substance abuse and homelessness.

Buffalo police are working on an "initiative to embed licensed clinical social workers" who will work alongside police and help respond to crisis calls, according to paperwork submitted to the Buffalo Common Council.

"The goal now is to create a specialized unit called the Behavorial Health Team within the police department," says Captain Rinaldo.

Endeavor Health Services is the company named in the proposed contract. A recently-awarded grant allows the company to hire three trained clinicians to work with Buffalo police and handle crisis calls, according to Captain Rinaldo.

The contract requires approval by the Common Council and is expected to be discussed at a meeting on Tuesday.