Police Chief Mike Tupper came up with the idea after calls to revamp police services and find better ways to deal with calls to police seeking help for noncriminal but potentially violent situations. Tupper approached Youth and Shelter Services (YSS) of Marshall County to find out how to get specialists in social services embedded with police.
“And going out into the community and helping us solve and deal with some really complicated issues. Sometimes we’re asking our cops to do too much and they have to be a jack-of-all-trades,” Tupper says. He says the program would give officers more support. “We think if we can partner with some social services, we can do a better job of providing resources in our community of addressing problems and maybe preventing some problems,” according to Tupper.
Tupper and YSS Of Marshall County director David Hicks went to the City Council to request $25,000 to develop the program. After mentioning it would probably take $150,000 to fund such a program for a year — the city council approve the $150,000. The program will be called Marshalltown Partnership and Community Action Team or MPACT.
Hicks is confident the program can make a difference. “It’s any social service involvement — maybe it’s behavioral issues with a child, police tell me they get calls from 911 from parents angry at their 13-year old for not wanting to do the dishes or doesn’t want to do his homework. So that’s getting a 911 call and a police visit. That is not law enforcement’s job,” Hicks says.
Hicks says MPACT can help in those situations. “We certainly want to reduce the frequency of police contact for non-cop duties. We want to make sure that there’s adequate support for people’s homes, so they’re not calling the police all the time, because if you keep calling the cops, someone’s gonna get arrested,” according to Hicks.
A hiring process for two social workers to be on call with the Marshalltown Police 24/7 is underway. The plan is to begin the program in January.
(By Ken Huge, KFJB, Marshalltown)