BPD senior police social worker Melissa Stone. Photo by Martin Boling

Editor’s note: The following is a press release from the City of Bloomington. Bloom has republished it here with minor edits for style and clarity.

The City of Bloomington and the Bloomington Police Department will host the 2021 National Conference on Police Social Work from October 18–20 in downtown Bloomington. The conference will provide an unprecedented opportunity for national leaders from the law enforcement and social work fields to explore and share successful methods and best practices for embedded social workers in police departments.  Registration (click here) is requested by October 11, with continuing education credits included in the cost of registration. 

Indiana’s first police agency to employ a full-time, embedded social worker, the BPD launched its program in 2019 as part of a larger effort to expand capacity to address non-criminal situations by establishing connections and building trust in the community.  Based on the effectiveness of the added position, the BPD and Mayor John Hamilton added two more social workers in 2021, funding for which was approved by City Council. Since 2019, the BPD has frequently served as a resource for other agencies around the country beginning their own programs.

“Our BPD social workers bring critical resources and connections to people in tough situations, helping to avoid escalation into crises,” says Mayor Hamilton.  “They are change makers and vital public safety partners.  I applaud the BPD for its pioneering rollout of our social worker program, which is making Bloomington a safer and more caring community, and we welcome folks from around the country to explore and expand future potential.”

“As we’ve ramped up our social worker program, the BPD has gotten more and more interest from other agencies seeking to do the same,” says Chief Michael Diekhoff.  “The conference will provide formal education and networking opportunities that will strengthen our program and benefit the field nationally.”

Appropriate for law enforcement agency personnel, mental health partners of law enforcement agencies, and any community official or stakeholder involved in the creation or management of a police social work program, the conference will offer eleven sessions over three days on topics such as ethics, clinician wellness, politics and funding, safety considerations, data collection, onboarding, and merging operations.

Keynote speakers for the conference are hostage negotiation expert and professor of psychology and counseling Dr. Andy Young, and crisis and resiliency specialist Ernest Stevens, a former Texas police officer and subject of the award-winning HBO documentary, “Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops.”

Registrants without a law enforcement agency affiliation or professional connection are asked to contact [email protected] prior to registering.