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Lycoming commissioners approve new police/social worker crisis intervention program

The front entrance of Lycoming County's Executive Plaza where the county commissioner meet
Chase Bottorf
The front entrance of Lycoming County's Executive Plaza where the county commissioner meet

Mental health caseworkers will soon join two more local police departments when police face a crisis situation.

The caseworkers will help with crises encountered by the Lycoming County Regional Police Department and Lock Haven police.

The money is coming through the Lycoming-Clinton Joinder Program, an umbrella organization of social services agencies in the two counties.

The program received a $189,762 Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency gun violence reduction grant to help pay for the interventions. The grant will last two years.

Keith Wagner, the Joinder’s executive director, addressed the grant during the Lycoming County commissioners meeting Thursday. Williamsport police previously received a similar grant.

The Center for Community Resources employs the caseworkers, who focus on crisis intervention. They have already met with both police departments. Chiefs will hire a mental health crisis worker, Wagner said.

Police officers will train crisis workers in what to do when responding. The caseworkers won’t carry weapons, Wagner said. They will carry a radio and wear protective vests.

Caseworkers have not been hired. They will have mental health and law enforcement training throughout the summer, Wagner said. Caseworkers will begin working this fall.

“They will work with law enforcement, so they'll be available to travel and co-respond to any law enforcement issue that involves someone with a mental health or drug and alcohol issue,” Wagner said. “The hope being that it reduces gun violence, and the need for hospitalization or ending up in prison.”

Chase Bottorf is a graduate of Lock Haven University and holds a bachelor's degree in English with a concentration in writing. Having previously been a reporter for the Lock Haven news publication, The Express, he is aware of the unique issues in the Lycoming County region, and has ties to the local communities.

You can email Chase at chasebottorf@wvia.org