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Waterloo police are launching a new program to enhance care coordination and delivery of services within the city.

Officials held a noon press conference at City Hall Monday to announce what they called "a ground-breaking partnership" between local social workers and Waterloo police when officers respond to someone with mental health issues. As described, the program will embed social workers with Elevate Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) in the Waterloo Police Department to provide mental health crisis intervention training to officers. Staff from Elevate will also respond alongside police to those in need.

"The goal of this program is to decriminalize behavioral crisis, and reduce stigmas, by have crisis specialists available 24/7 both with the police department and through Elevate and other service providers," Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said. "Our cooperative and collaborative approach proactively addresses underlying issues that often result in law enforcement intervention, incarceration, or the application of force."

Elevate has been assisting Waterloo police on calls involving a crisis response or services to those with mental health disorders since Jan. 1. According to Fitzgerald, embedding social workers in the Waterloo Police Department takes the partnership a step further.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies is one of the items listed on the Waterloo City Council’s agenda for Monday night's meeting.

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