The City of Waterloo has announced that Waterloo police officers will be joined by social workers for calls involving persons in crisis or in need, thanks to a new partnership.

According to KWWL, the police department's new partner is the Elevate Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) in Waterloo. Elevate is funded by the Cares Act.

Since the beginning of 2021, social workers from Elevate CCBHC have been going on calls for persons in crisis, or those dealing with mental health impairments. The partnership will allow those social workers to be implanted into the police force and to continue to respond, along with officers, to certain calls. Waterloo Police announced on a media call that there are currently three social workers embedded in the department, with the plan for one of them to work each shift.

In a media release, Waterloo Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said,

The goal of this program is to decriminalize behavioral crises, and reduce stigmas, by having Crisis Specialists available 24/7 both within the Police Department and through Elevate and other service providers. Our cooperative and collaborative approach proactively addresses underlying issues that often result in law enforcement intervention, incarceration, or the application of force.

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Anyone in crisis can contact Call Your Life Iowa at 855-581-8111 or text 855-895-8398. A crisis counselor can send the Mobile Crisis Team in an hour or less. Elevate offers interventions both in-person and on-site.

You can watch the full media conference, courtesy of KWWL, below. *Please note, there is no audio until the 1:55 mark of the video.

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