Carlo Nevicosi, Interim Director of Walworth County’s Health & Human Services Department, recently told the Banner, “In our 2021 budget, we added two clinical social workers with the purpose of ’embedding’ them in law enforcement agencies. We know that law enforcement is the first responder for lots of things that aren’t criminal. The goal with this pilot is to work alongside officers to manage behavioral health issues and to coordinate follow-up responses for calls they get that are not crime-related. For the pilot, we selected Delavan and Whitewater Police Departments. It’s been a great partnership setting this up with Chief Raap.”
In response to the Banner’s inquiry as to what prompted the department to propose this pilot, and to select Whitewater and Delavan, Nevicosi replied, “A lot of the conversation started around the fact that law enforcement tends to be the first responder for just about everything, mental health and substance abuse problems included. We have very strong relationships with our law enforcement agencies and starting thinking about how we could better support them AND get good outcomes for our community members in need. We have a 24/7 Crisis Intervention Program. They’re mobile, but housed in Elkhorn. We looked at some of our data regarding population and volume of crisis responses and we landed on Delavan and Whitewater. We’ve launched the program in Delavan and are recruiting for the Whitewater position. The scheduling is certainly a bit trickier. Delavan opted for a pretty standard first-shift workday. Whitewater sees more value in a second shift position. They will each get a full-time Crisis Specialist housed in their departments. During the remaining hours in the day, they’ll continue to use our team housed in Elkhorn. We’re calling this a pilot for now. We’ll be gathering data, but the overarching goal is to let the police do police stuff and we can help handle issues with social service needs. This pilot is not grant funded. With some data, I think we’ll be well-positioned to apply for grants.”
Mr. Nevicosi indicated that this article on Yahoo news is the kind of story that has inspired Walworth’s pilot.