Clinton Township explores social work assistance in policing

By: Alex Szwarc | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published June 11, 2021

 A $25,000 study was approved last month in Clinton Township. It is designed to be a deep dive into how social workers can support responding police officers in situations that require or would benefit from additional personal or community support.

A $25,000 study was approved last month in Clinton Township. It is designed to be a deep dive into how social workers can support responding police officers in situations that require or would benefit from additional personal or community support.

File photo

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A study will now be initiated to see how social workers can support police in Clinton Township.

Last month, the Board of Trustees approved the community development block grant annual action plan for 2021-22.

“The Clinton Township Police Department supports a study, to determine if engaging social workers can help better serve the community by providing support for their officers in the field,” a press release states.

Trustee Laura Cardamone, a social worker who owns a private practice counseling center in Clinton Township, initiated the $25,000 study, which is funded by block grant dollars. The money is provided annually to the township.

The study is designed to be a deep dive into how social workers can support responding police officers in situations that require or would benefit from additional personal or community support.

“A needs assessment will likely transition into the development of a working program,” the release notes.

Cardamone said that, as a trained social worker and former victim’s rights advocate with the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, she sees where behavioral or mental health struggles far too often overwhelm and escalate.

“Departments around the country are seeing reductions in reoccurrence calls, and increases in treatment referrals, for things like substance abuse, trauma, and mental health disorders after implementing this type of program,” she said.

Clinton Township Police Chief Bruce Wade commented that the township has highly trained officers in the areas of investigating and fighting crimes, securing the scene, and de-escalating tensions.

“We’re open to exploring a type of partnership with professional social workers who can work with our community and better recognize the underlying issues that often tie up our officers and overwhelm the resources of our department,” he said.

Wade went on to say the police department sees the study as a possible opportunity to further service to the community without changing the response to crime.

Now approved, Cardamone envisions developing a small committee or workgroup involving police officers, township administrators and policymakers to outline the process and define the scope of the study.

Treasurer Paul Gieleghem said the township needs to see if it wants to employ certified social workers to help guide the efforts to make valuable contributions.

“When police are there, they are focused on securing the scene and making sure everyone is safe and deescalating in tense situations,” he said.

Gieleghem noted that police aren’t always looking at what the emotional impact of things and what referral services are available to help individuals to prevent incidents from reoccurring.

“I think it makes us a better, more open and more effective community,” Gieleghem said.

Supervisor Bon Cannon said he has been in communication with Wade regarding what this would look like.

“We have to spend it on low- and moderate-income residents,” he said. “It’s not for the police officers. It’s for the residents.”

Cannon said he is in favor of the study.