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Social worker to join SLOPD officers in the field to help addres - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Social worker to join SLOPD officers in the field to help address mental health issues

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Approximately one in three calls to the San Luis Obispo Police Department involves the homeless. Soon, SLOPD will have a social worker join its Community Action Team.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors recently approved funding for the position. 
 
"Looking at our calls for service, we believe about one-third of our calls for service deal with homeless individuals in our community," said SLOPD Captain Chris Staley. 
 
Capt. Staley says 30 to 50 percent of the homeless individuals they come across suffer from mental illness, a number have substance abuse problems, and many are chronic offenders.   

"We had one offender who had been arrested as many as over 100 times in one year," Staley continued. 
 
A full-time social worker with specialized training in identifying mental health issues will join officers out in the field. It will be an added layer to the officers' crisis intervention training already under their belts.   

"We really hope that instead of having some of these people get into the criminal justice system that we'll find other alternatives for them to get them treatment, get them help, get them resources they need," Staley said. 
 
By the end of this week, Transitions-Mental Health Association plans to post the job online. It's a position they say is much needed.   

"It's kind of like matching the needs of the clients a little bit better and quicker," said Joe Madsen of TMHA. 
 
It'll be the first time a social worker will be officially working with the police department. 

"We're just hoping this is a first step in really addressing the mental health issues here within our community," Staley concluded.  
 
The salary for the position is roughly $50,000 to $60,000. It's covered by the Mental Health Services Act. They're hoping to fill this position by March. 
 
We reached out to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office and were told they're looking into the feasibility of a social worker joining their unit, as well. 
 

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