MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa– The Marshalltown City Council has approved a proposal to embed social workers with police officers to handle non criminal situations.
Chief of Police, Michael Tupper, said this has been a difficult summer after the death of George Floyd in May. The Marshalltown police have been searching for a better way to handle operations. Chief Tupper said this could be a solution.
“As a law enforcement agency, many times we’re called into the community to help with problems that are really not law enforcement related, probably more social service related. But we can’t always provide those social services in a 24/7 manner. So that’s what we’re trying to get done,” Chief Tupper said.
This pilot program is called the Marshalltown Partnership and Community Action Team. This project is a joint effort between the Marshalltown Police and the Youth and Shelter Services of Marshall County.
YSS will provide social workes, who will be on call 24/7, to handle non-criminal situations such as family disputes.
According to Chief Tupper, the Marshalltown police receive around 800 calls a week.
The Community Engagement Director at YSS in Marshall County, David Hicks, said the MPACT project will not only take some workload off of law enforcement, but also prevent friction between Marshalltown police and residents.
“If people keep calling the police over and over again, chances are somebody’s going to get arrested. So we feel that we may be another choice for the family or we could provide just that hope and opportunity that the family may be looking for, as opposed to putting in somebody in jail,” Hicks said.
Marshall Police Department and YSS originally asked the city council for a $25,000 budget for this program. However, council members liked this new project so much, they allocated $150,000 to the MPACT program. This is an addition to the Marshalltown Police Department’s budget.
MPACT is the first program of it’s kind in central Iowa, which Chief Tupper said brings excitement and nerves.
“I’ve been a police officer for almost 28 years, I’ve been a police chief for over 16 now in Iowa. Generally we go to the council we ask for money and we have all the answers to all the questions. This is one of those situations where we just don’t know how it’s going to work,” Chief Tupper said. “But we think that we can be effective and we think we can do some really positive things .”
YSS in Marshall County has put together a community committee to figure out exactly what this program will entail.
Hicks said they will be posting applications with job descriptions for social workers by the end of the week.
The Marshalltown Police Department and YSS in Marshal County are hoping to start this program in January, 2021.