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As Illinois lawmakers continue to talk in the House on a proposal of potential changes to policing and the possibility of a social worker accompanying police on calls, VP of Behavior Health Services at Bridgeway Stacy Brown shares their preliminary discussion on how it impacts society:
“I think if you set up the system correctly it can work incredibly effectively. I do not think I am a proponent of replacing a police officer with a counselor. I do not think that is the answer. I think what you need to see is those two entities working in a collaborative effort in order to best serve the community. I think there are a lot of times when police officers are called out to issues that are difficult for them to handle. It may not be necessarily something dangerous, but it does involve somebody who is experiencing mental health or substance use issues.”
Brown informs they have had conversations with peers in other states with similar programs that have worked very well. Meanwhile, in the months and years ahead, Brown states continuing to ensure law enforcement, fire departments, and the community understand and remain educated on mental health and substance use is vital.