Reynoldsburg police department to add social worker to staff

Kelley Rodriguez
ThisWeek
Reynoldsburg City Hall

The Reynoldsburg Division of Police soon will have the helping hand of a licensed social worker.

City Council voted unanimously March 22 to create the position of public-safety social worker/victim advocate.

The social worker will help develop a process for RPD officers to refer community members to short-term case management “to assure appropriate connection with providers; follow ups on referrals from offices and administration regarding matters concerning mental health, dependency and addiction, victim’s services, family services and elderly needs to bridge available providers of social services,” according to legislation presented to council.

The social worker will work with the department’s crisis intervention team and community-resource offices.

“The position is to be a supplemental and complimentary support for anyone from victim referrals to follow up on victims of mental health, dependency and addiction, victim services, family services, elderly needs, connections to county and statewide resources, and to provide support and guidance for family members,” said Rhonda Grizzell, deputy police chief. “A lot of times, our police officers are out there on the front lines and they are dealing with situations in the beginning and then what we wanted to do is to provide an opportunity for social worker to come in after the initial contacts to follow up.”

Public-safety social work programs can improve relationships between law enforcement and communities of color and strength safety, according to a 2020 report on policing by the National Association of Social Workers.

“They're going to have an expertise that just goes a little bit beyond what the officers are trained to do,” Grizzell said. “We love the idea that we're going to be able to enhance the delivery of the service that we're providing.

Grizzell said RPD eventually hopes to partner with Truro Township Fire Department, which operates a free community paramedicine program.

Community paramedics focus on specific populations to help reduce “repeat runs” to the same address and help find more cost-effective ways to treat the patients than emergency room visits and hospitalizations.  

“You know one of the things that I like to say is we are, in terms of the crisis response as law enforcement, we're like the EMTs of a crisis response. But it pretty much stops right there and there's no continuum of care, and that's what I think this position is going to help us try to fix and bridge that gap,” Grizzell said.

Job candidates will be required to hold a master’s degree in social work with a minimum of five years of experience in case management and social service delivery.

The full-time police department position has a salary range of $28 to $44 per hour, plus a city benefits package.

Ward 4 councilwoman Meredith Lawson-Rowe called the position “another notch in our PD belt.”

“Our community-resource officers do an amazing job helping to bridge the gap (in schools) and to know that we will have another finger on the hand of Reynoldsburg Police Department to assist our neighbors to fill in those gaps is much needed and I'm fully in support,” Lawson-Rowe said.

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