A two-year-old partnership between the police and social workers in Delaware, the Child Development Community Policing program, was formed to try preventing traumatized children from becoming criminals or falling into depression, reports the Wilmington News Journal. Police have referred for help about 1,400 children who have witnessed or been a victim of crime.
Domestic violence calls are perhaps the best illustration of how the program has changed police work in Wilmington. Before it started, police officers wouldn’t have done much, if anything, for children involved. There were too few officers and too many 911 calls. Social work isn’t their business, and, besides, a child may not appear traumatized. Before all 300 Wilmington officers were trained to look for traumatized children at crime scenes, they mostly focused on securing the perimeter, collecting evidenceand catching the bad guy. Now, before officers hustle to the next 911 call, they fill out a form for social workers. Wilmington based the program on a partnership started in 1991 between the Yale Child Study Center and the New Haven, Conn., police department. Fifteen other cities have started Yale programs. New Haven police refer as many as 2,500 cases a year to mental health workers at Yale. That alone makes the program a success, said Dr. Steven Marans, a professor of child psychiatry at Yale. “Prior to the inception of the program, the number of referrals from police was zero,” he said.