In 2020, the Fayetteville Police Department, under the direction of Chief Mike Reynolds, began exploring options to integrate Social Services Advocates into the law enforcement response to individuals experiencing crises. A relationship was created with the University of Arkansas School of Social Work to provide guidance and expertise.
In January 2021, an internship began with University of Arkansas graduate-level social work students. The program now hosts graduate and undergraduate-level students.
Immediate crisis response and resource provision remain the program’s primary focus.
Fayetteville Police Department was one of thirty-four recipients of a United States Department of Justice - COPS grant for Crisis Intervention to fund two full-time Social Services Advocate positions. The city of Fayetteville administration matched this grant to fund two full-time 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team trained officers to provide co-response enhancing services.
The program continues to grow and adapt to the community it serves with four overarching goals:
1 – Reduce the criminalization of people who suffer from substance abuse, homelessness, and mental health issues.
2 – Identify victims of crime who would benefit from additional community resources and/or counseling.
3 – Enhance and increase the community’s trust in the Fayetteville Police Department.
4 – Collect data to evaluate program effectiveness.
Fayetteville’s CIRT provides a non-uniformed response to those facing crisis. The co-responder model pairs a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained police officer with a Social Services Advocate (SSA). Co-responder teams provide a direct response to calls for service and follow-up contact with citizens to aid the uniformed patrol division. The team(s) works to identify the needs of the citizens of Fayetteville and connect them with community resources needed to improve their situation.