JEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. — In discussions about police reform, there’s been a push to have help for officers when they respond to calls that law enforcement alone can ’t solve. The Jeffersontown Police Department is working to solve that by adding a group of social workers to their team.
Through their new REACH program, social workers can respond to calls and help with behavioral health, assist sexual assault victims, and get resources for those with substance abuse disorders. REACH stands for respond, evaluate, advocate, connect and heaL.
“I think it’s the future of law enforcement,” Rick Sanders, the Jeffersontown Police Chief said. “I believe in the holistic approach and I’ve been a police officer my whole life, I come from a family of police officers and we don’t apologize for locking up bad guys, but if we can get out and help those people that need help we’re all better off, the community’s better off, they’re better off.”
The department’s holistic approach to serving the community has been in the works for several years. In 2016, they introduced the Angel Program, where people experiencing a substance abuse disorder could come to the station and be placed into a treatment facility. Chief Sanders says since that program began, they’ve helped 80 people get clean.
In 2020, the department added its first social worker to oversee their victim services program. This program provides resources to sexual assault survivors.
Through REACH, these programs are now under the same department, streamlining getting resources directly to victims.
“Sometimes we just need somebody to guide us and that’s what we do,” Amanda Chapman, community resource officer for Jeffersontown PD said.
Chapman, the department’s first social worker, now oversees REACH. Chapman says helping those experiencing substance abuse is a key priority. It’s why they’ll be able to give victims outreach bags filled with things like Narcan, gloves and other safety materials.
“To get them on the road to cover whatever that may be, meeting people where they’re at meeting them where they want to go not where we want or what we expect, it’s their goals and so we empower people and educate them,” Chapman said.
The department has recognized arresting someone suffering from these issues is not always the answer. By reducing the barriers to recover, they can get people back on the right path.
REACH can be contacted by phone at (502)-267-0503 and pressing 3 or by email at Reach@jtownkypd.org.