Mayor Abrams kicked off the presentation with an overview of the Maplewood program. She noted how often Ramsey County officials have been reaching out to her asking “How did you get a social worker embedded in the Maplewood police department, paid for Ramsey County!?” This is how it was done:
Identifying the Problem
Maplewood identified that many of the emergency calls they were receiving involved a mental health component. To better serve these individuals, Maplewood formed their MHOT team – Mental Health Outreach Team – comprising of firefighters and police officers working with mental health-related calls. The MHOT teams spent over 800 hours in 2019 dedicated to MHOT activities.
After investing in staff, extra training, and after tracking data, Maplewood concluded they needed help and reached out to partners. Key people in this effort included Chief Michael Mondor, Lt. Brian Bierdeman, Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt and Commissioner Trista MatasCastillo. Commissioner MatasCastillo called this program a “no-brainer.” (we agree!)
To Maplewood’s pleasure, the proposal was received well by Ramsey County. These partners’ efforts resulted in Ramsey County providing Maplewood a social worker, who began in April 2021.
The idea was that this social worker would ultimately relieve the demand placed on public safety resources. Chief Mondor said that two years ago, when Maplewood would receive a 911 call, their officers and paramedics would have to identify which help is needed. This creates a gap in which a social worker can fill.
This program will change Maplewood’s interactions with safety officers, as taking the burden off of officers moves services upstream and deescalates crisis situations. It ultimately allows services and resources to be located for those making those mental health calls. Mayor Abrams said “We’re recognizing that we need to deal with mental health issues.”
Lt. Brian Bierdeman notes that just like how canine and other units are commonplace, Maplewood’s vision is that these social workers become commonplace throughout Ramsey County.
To conclude, we agree with Tom Fischer words: “This program gets service providers back into their expertise and comfort zone. This program is in its infancy and we will need to learn and adjust. Congratulations on your willingness to do this pilot. Exceptional Work to all that made this happen!”