Too often people shot or brutalized by police are suffering mental issues or drug addiction and have trouble finding stable housing. In a recent article published in Policy & Practice, the flagship publication of the American Public Human Services Association, Daniel Pollack, a professor at Yeshiva University’s School of Social Work in New York City and Jamie Tester Morfoot, an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire’s Social Work Department describe how the city of Eau Claire in the Midwest created a Criminal Justice Collaborating Council (CJCC) that studied the life of a victim during the entire year previous to being shot by the police and as a result proposed changes in Eau Claire County services systems to prevent such shootings.
Responding police teams now have a mental health professional with them and may have access to information related to the personal mental health history of the person they are going after. The county jail also added mental health services. The County Treatment Courts has redefined its terms to be more accessible to drug dealers fighting addiction. Eau Claire also created a Free Mental Health Clinic that will be expanded and also studies options to expand affordable housing.
“By embracing the uncomfortable conversations around how service systems may have failed an individual, Eau Claire County has implemented changes resulting in improved outcomes for its citizens in need of additional supports. By reframing gaps in service as a community issue, instead of just individual government system issues, the human services provider leadership is striving to create better outcomes for all Eau Claire community members.”