Medina Police Department, and six other cities from the Lake Minnetonka area, have joined the embedded social worker program offered through Hennepin County Human Services. Calls for service to Medina Police Department are received by Hennepin County dispatchers and this program offers another collaborative effort to better serve the residents in our community. The program which was established in 2019 is being called the “future of public safety,” and in the year of 2022 the expansion will include 12 embedded social workers, across 21 departments that serve 29 cities in Hennepin County in 2022. Medina has teamed up with Corcoran, Deephaven, Minnetrista, Orono, South Lake Minnetonka and Wayzata to provide this service to their respective communities.
This program offers timely engagement and support to a person in crisis. It offers a connection to a social worker who can then help them get set up with community resources in response to the unique situation they are experiencing, such as a need for mental health support, substance use treatment, and housing and employment assistance.
When someone places a call to 911, the social worker is not responding to the scene; instead, police respond and sometimes fire and EMS are involved as well. The officer determines if there is a concern for the resident and a need for additional resources that would benefit the person in crisis and if so, they put a referral in to the social worker. The social worker then reviews the information before reaching out to the resident. The social worker then attempts intervention with the individual to learn more about their situation. While each situation is unique, the goal is to listen to the concerns of the individual and then develop a plan to coordinate with existing supports, resources, and referrals for ongoing needs.
This program offers encouragement and empowerment to an individual in crisis by connecting them with appropriate local supports that they might not otherwise be aware of. This also provides them with a set of expanding resources they can lean on as issues arise. Being empowered with this support system helps to improve their mental health symptoms and improves their quality of life. The embedded social worker program helps to reduce the number of repeat calls related to mental health as individuals are getting the help they need.