Amidst the civil unrest and protests over incidents of police brutality in the summer of 2020, master of social work students Chandice Commeree, Rhiannon McDaniel, Tek Neopany, and Katrina Neopany came together to create a plan that would reduce the need for force by involving social workers.
The group thoughtfully created a “Partnering with Police” policy brief that would allow social workers and law enforcement to focus on what they do best. For social workers, that is working with people who are experiencing mental health crises, and for law enforcement, investigating and protecting the public from criminal behavior.
“Social workers and police officers have unique strengths,” McDaniel said. “We believe that by allowing each group to focus on their strengths, we can keep our communities safer.”
The recommendation implements a CAHOOTS (crisis assistance helping out on the streets) based program to capitalize on the strengths of each group. This program is connected to a local police dispatch that sends out a two-person team including a mental health crisis worker and a medical staff.
They sent copies of the policy brief to local legislators, officials, and stakeholders in the law enforcement community in hopes that they soon adopt the program.
“Police brutality is an expansive problem,” Moreno said. “I wanted to recognize that what we are doing is a very small piece of a giant puzzle. It’s in a direction toward a safer community.”
Find this article and a lot more in the 2021 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.