Kathleen Bell hired for HCRS’ Police Social Work program in Brattleboro

BRATTLEBORO — Kathleen Bell has been hired as the new Health Care & Rehabilitation Services (HCRS) Community Support Specialist for the Police Social Work (PSW) program, in collaboration with the Brattleboro Police Department.

The PSW program coordinates services to people referred by the police department or community providers. Often people come into contact with police as the result of an unmet social need, according to HCRS.

PSW staff, who spend part of their work week in police departments, make connections with community members and attempt to connect the community with mental health, substance abuse, and other services.

Bell's career has included work with domestic abuse situations, substance abuse, and crisis interventions. Most recently, she worked in the mental health unit at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield.

Before that, Bell worked for the Windsor County Family Court in collaboration with community hospitals and police departments. She also has provided crisis intervention services for New Beginnings and facilitated the Intensive Domestic Abuse and Batterers Intervention Programs in Windsor County.

“We are privileged again to have a liaison between the police department and Health Care and Rehabilitation Services,” said Brattleboro Police Chief Eugene Wrinn.

“Kathleen has hit the ground running as our Community Support Specialist. Her experience and services will free up officers to more proactively deal with criminal activities while she supports citizens in need of social services who have come in contact with the department.”

Originally started in Bellows Falls in 2002, the PSW program contributed to a 30 percent reduction in crime in that community, according to HCRS.

The PSW program has been honored by the Secretary of the Agency of Human Services, cited as a model program by the Act 80 Law Enforcement Advisory Board, recommended by the statewide Incarcerated Women's Initiative report, and received the 2005 Special Recognition award by the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill of Vermont.

Founded in 1967, HCRS is a nonprofit, community mental health agency serving Vermonters in Windham and Windsor counties. For more information, call 802-886-4567, ext. 2135.

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