Jackson Hole Police Hoping To Add Social Worker To Department
After months of increased crisis calls, Jackson Hole's Chief of Police, Michelle Weber, has decided to create a new position in the force: a social worker.
This past year, the Jackson Hole police have responded to 165 crisis calls. Those include mental, financial or pandemic-related matters. That's a rise of 36 percent from 2020. And this is with an increase in total service calls.
Weber said the officers would spend up to 90 minutes on these calls.
"Our town has, at a minimum, two officers on staff. And during the summer months, we service, you know, there's 65,000 visitors in the town of Jackson," said Weber. "So, that's not a lot of officers for the population that we're serving."
The new hire would arrive on the scene after officers make sure it’s safe. Weber said they still will be working in conjunction with services already available in the community but they also have difficulties with capacity.
"In the middle of the night, they're certainly willing to have a phone conversation with people, but aren't able to actually come out in the field to the scene," she said. "So it's not that I don't think that they don't want to, it's just that they don't have the capacity to do so."
Weber said she envisions the social worker participating in training with law enforcement, and possibly even teach some training.
The proposed budget should be approved by the end of June. And hopefully, someone will be in the position starting this fall.