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Tue Nov 17, 2020, 10:21 AM

In The 1980s, St. Louis Police Partnered With Social Workers -- Only To Abandon The Effort

Looking back on her long career in mental health and crisis intervention, Amy Hilgemann remembers the job she had in the early 1980s as among the most fulfilling work she ever did. At the time, she directed Crisis Intervention Services, a collaboration with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

The experimental, United Way-funded program ran for about 3˝ years under the oversight of the Magdala Foundation, a local organization focused on serving socially and intellectually disadvantaged people. Police officers were empowered to hand off certain situations to a dedicated group of six social workers, including Hilgemann, whom they could call on from 7 a.m. to midnight seven days a week.

And as Hilgemann recalls it, the program got quite a few rave reviews — both from community members and some people in the police department.

“We would deal with a problem that the police had been dealing with for like five years, and they’d never call the police again,” Hilgemann told St. Louis on the Air.


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