KPD to Have Social Workers on Drug and Mental Health Calls

The Knoxville City Council has approved a pilot program to send social workers with KPD officers responding to drug and mental health calls.

The partnership is with the Helen Ross McNabb Center. Candace Allen with the Center says they’ve been looking at a plan like this for years and have been training officers in crisis intervention.

Allen said, “What they do lack is the expertise of working with someone who has mental illness or an addition issue and all of the knowledge of how you help that person receive treatment and making referrals.”

There was some push back at the meeting Tuesday. Opponents wanted social workers paired with paramedics instead.

“As social workers, we are called by our code of ethics to advocate for people who are experiencing oppression,” said Allen. “So, when you align social workers with police, a lot of the times people in the community might have an increase of mistrust with social workers in general.”

Officials say they hope to have the program started by October.

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