Social Services Division
Given that 80% or more of patrol work consists of service related functions, opportunities exist for collaboration between police officers, social service agencies and social workers. Numerous police departments across the country have capitalized on these functions by employing civilian police social workers to assist police officers with the provision of services. The primary tasks of social workers embedded within departments are to provide services to community residents such as crisis intervention, mediation, and referrals. Additional tasks may include the provision of training and consultation to police officers, and mental health services to police officers and their families.
In October of 2019 the Scarborough Police Department launched a new Social Services Navigator position, with approval of funding by the town. This specially trained social worker is embedded within the police department and is able to provide education, outreach and case management. The Navigator is able to provide intervention, advocacy, and facilitation services, in partnership with the members of the police department through referrals and direct contact with individuals facing adverse challenges. These challenges can include mental health, substance use, homelessness, or other unaddressed/unmet needs. The navigator position was created as a way for members of the community to receive increased stabilization of care versus a band aid being placed on situations until the "next time." Officers who are responding to individuals with unaddressed mental health needs rarely have the time to spend hours with the individuals sending off referrals or coordinating services as it is critical they respond to other imminent circumstances. This position is constantly collaborating with mental health and substance health providers, shelters and general assistance as well as crisis providers and emergency department staff. During the first year, the Navigator received over 109 referrals and to date (August 2023) the Navigator has received over 600 referrals, connecting with a wide variety of citizens to help in strengthening their support and resources.
The Social Services Division has strengthened and expanded communication between Scarborough Police and community agencies as highlighted in the list of day to day interactions below:
- Collaborating care with local crisis teams and emergency departments
- Partnering with Adult Protective and Child Protective to ensure safety
- Referrals to case management, therapy and/or psychiatry
- Connecting individuals to local food pantries, general assistance or other emergent support services
The Social Services Division also provides on-going training and resources for the department's personnel as needed and identified. The navigator helps to co-facilitate the department's Peer Support Team and arrange for team members to receive appropriate training to conduct and support defusing and/or critical incident stress debriefings.
Please contact the Social Services Manager with any questions.
Lauren Dembski-Martin, LCSW