BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Social workers will soon be partnering with the Buffalo Police Department. The Buffalo Common Council approved a year-long contract between BPD and Endeavor Health Services Tuesday.
"We do not expect police officers to be behavioral health experts. I expect licensed health care workers and licensed clinical social workers to be that now," said Council Member Ulysees Wingo, Sr.
Social workers will work side by side with officers at no cost to the city. Endeavor was recently awarded a grant allowing the company to hire three social workers to work with the Buffalo Police Department.
"This did not cost the city any more money. We did not change the police budget or increase it for this," said Wingo.
The social workers will be part of the Buffalo Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team which has been providing officers mental health training.
"This means that the police are looking to the crisis intervention team to interact with the person who may be decompensating," Wingo said.
Officers will refer people in need of mental health or substance abuse treatment to Endeavor's social workers.
The social workers will then provide community-based intervention and general psychological assessments. They will also link individuals to crisis outreach services.
Social workers will be present at police calls involving mental health or substance abuse issues.
"If they have a history of mental health it will help and absolutely if you ask me change the outcome if there were a mental health expert on scene," said Wingo.
The contract is set to begin at mid-July after short training period.