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Social Workers Joining Law Enforcement to Improve Service

Social Workers Joining Law Enforcement to Improve Service


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

The world of public safety is changing drastically. For years, fire departments and emergency medical services agencies (fire-based emergency medical services) have worked together to handle fire, medical, and trauma calls. This cooperation has essentially made the entry requirements for becoming a first-responder professional much more competitive.

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Tactical Emergency Medical Support (TEMS) has emerged, allowing EMS to handle serious, high-risk emergencies. According to the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA), “The ability of TEMS providers to develop medical threat assessments, render immediate medical care in austere environments, and provide logistical support will further the health and safety of law enforcement personnel and reduce the incidences of injury, illness, disability and death associated with training and tactical operations.”

New Initiatives Have Been Extremely Successful in Improving Public Safety Agencies

These public safety initiatives have been extremely successful in changing public safety agencies for the better. The latest idea to emerge in the public safety realm occurred recently when a police department in Griffith, Indiana, hired a social worker. This idea will not only help to streamline social work and law enforcement, but it may prove to be a catalyst to change public safety agencies throughout the country.

It will be interesting to see how the Griffith Police Department implements this idea in the next few months and just how much this new concept will help to shape public safety efforts across the U.S.

The Merging of Social Work and Law Enforcement

Merging social work and law enforcement is not a new concept. An article in the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work blog explains how social workers improve relationships between police and communities.  The new program “places interns in police departments where they can help officers address social issues that affect local communities.”

One of the major reasons for adding social workers to police departments is to tighten the relationship between the community and law enforcement, particularly in areas where trust in government is concerned. Like so many other social problems, trust in government is a “wicked problem,” meaning that trust is complex with no one-size-fits-all solution.

While there are numerous facets that need to be considered with creating more “trust in government,” the concept of merging social work and law enforcement may be very beneficial.

How the Public Safety Image Has Changed

Public safety agencies around the country are changing in new and innovative ways to keep up with the needs of the public. To accommodate these needs and combine them with budgetary concerns, local governments have worked to strengthen fire and EMS services by requiring that professional firefighters be paramedics before they can join a fire department. This is not a new concept, and it is certainly one that has been an important measure for cross-training purposes.

In other parts of the country in recent years, the Community Paramedicine Model has created a new way to monitor patients at home without sending them to the emergency department. It was an issue that was severely hampering the patient care of emergency departments.

Public Safety Agencies Will Continue to Develop New Ways to Reach the General Public

Public safety agencies will continue to develop new methods to effectively reach the general public.

Griffith Police Department’s innovative social work position will likely contribute to the community in a meaningful way. Similar to other public safety agencies, this idea of adding social workers to fire and EMS departments may very well be the latest trend to impact public safety agencies throughout the country.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.