Bloomington Police Department social worker Melissa Stone spoke at the Citizens Police Academy Tuesday night about her new job.
Melissa Stone became the first police social worker in Indiana and at BPD when she was hired in February.
Stone said BPD and Mayor John Hamilton discussed ways to cut down high call volume at the station. The result was the creation of her new job.
“I never knew this job could be a thing,” Stone said.
She said the types of referrals she usually sees are adults with serious mental illness, the aging population living alone and children with behavioral concerns.
Stone said she provides crisis intervention and de-escalation, case management and short-term therapy.
“I would love to do long-term therapy, but I can’t,” Stone said. “I don’t have time to do long-term therapy.”
Stone said from April to August, she's had 65 referrals and 251 interactions, totaling in 102 hours devoted to her referrals.
In addition to her referrals, Stone said she also participates in weekly outreaches to camps and parks around Bloomington. She said she has spent just over 22 hours speaking to and helping the homeless population.
Stone said she has had success connecting people to home health and mental health services in her first six months on the job.
But Stone said there are many challenges that come with starting a new job.
Stone said getting the word out about her job has been challenging. She said she played a presentation about her job at the officer’s roll call and attends roll call so officers can see who she is.
She said one of the hardest aspects is being the only social worker at BPD.
“I’m not used to being in a place where I can’t go to anyone,” Stone said. “It’s a lot of times me making a decision in the moment.”
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