DEARBORN, Mich. (FOX 2) - The Dearborn Police Department had more than 1,500 mental health and welfare calls in 2022 - a significant increase from 2021 - so they're stepping up their response with a social work co-responder.
Dearborn Police Chief Issa Shahin said the stats the city saw in 2022 were not unique to the city and that they follow a national trend.
"Last year,we had over 1,600 mental health and welfare calls and thats a 30% increase over the last year," Shahin said. "The majority of calls for mental health issues – they are not violent; it's just a small percentage that makes the news."
The uptick in mental health calls has spurred change at the Dearborn Police Department with the addition of social workers to their ranks. The first of whom is Stacey Wetters.
"This is the direction that policing is going to go in because officers are not necessarily trained to be social workers and so many calls expect them to be," Wetter said.
Wetters is a licensed master social worker and a reserve deputy at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.
"I am able to see it from both sides: from the clinician side of it and from the law enforcement side," she said.
Wetters will go on calls with officers who do have some training handling mental health issues but she won't be at risk.
"If its not a safe environment, then the social worker will have to stay in the background so the police officers can deescalate it. But when the social workers can respond with the officers we will do that as well," Shahin said.
But it’s also on the back end of calls, when the mental health crisis is over that her place here at the department is key.
"We will follow up with the individuals to make sure they receive the services that they need," Wetters said.
This week was the end of Wetters' third week at Dearborn Police and is the go-to social worker for now - but they're hoping to add more to their department.