DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office says a new program that pairs social workers with deputies to monitor at-risk people in the community is a big success.
Two full-time social workers are on patrol with Sheriff’s deputies to work with people in the community who are facing mental health challenges. The program is saving a lot of money by cutting down on arrests, but more importantly it’s making sure people get the help they need.
Sheriff Streck told the story of a person struggling with mental health over the past several years. Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck says, “This individual was put in the Montgomery County Jail 85 times to the cost of $63,000.” Since July, trained, full-time social workers are partnering with Sheriff’s deputies to work with at-risk people. Sheriff Streck says now, “That individual has not been incarcerated one time in 2020 because of the services this program offers.”
Grant money pays for the social workers from Eastway Behavioral Healthcare. Their 40-hour work weeks are spent patrolling with deputies and intervening when people need help. Sheriff Streck says the social workers are not replacing law enforcement officers. “What it does is put a trained law enforcement officer with a trained mental health individual to go in and actually assist people in need.”
Sheriff Streck says the program works in the jail and in the community and has been a success in the first three months. But he says the challenge is looking beyond to long-term care needs. “The biggest problem is what do we do with them now? We are not overflowing with services in our region.”
The current agreement expires at the end of the calendar year, but Sheriff Streck is confident all parties involved will work to extend it into 2021 and beyond.