Law enforcement and social work

Law enforcement and social work need to collide. Many people believe that law enforcement is working on the streets or in jails, giving tickets, DUI’s and arresting people for petty crimes. Not many consider other aspects, or areas that work with law enforcement. “80% or more of patrol work is comprised of service related functions, opportunities exist for collaboration between police officers, social service agencies and social workers,” (NASW, 2008). Social workers work in numerous areas such as Victim Advocacy, Prison Rehabilitation, Parole Enforcement, and so on. They also mention “the types of social problems that involve police social workers vary by police department and typically include mental health, domestic violence and juvenile delinquency,” (NASW, 2008).

“Social workers perform a broad spectrum of duties ranging from providing support to those faced with difficult situations, emotional stresses, or significant change in their lives to clinically diagnosing emotional, behavioral or mental health disorders in individuals,” (Social Work Licensure, 2011). The goal is not only to help patients cope but also to help provide the resources they need. Typically Social Workers are seperated into direct service Social Wokers and Clinical Social Workers. Most Social Workers train for a specific department they wish to work in.

Within this field the goal with people is typically to help them people through hard times and ensure that people, children and adults, are safe. They work usually work in two different roles;statutory and non-statutory. In saturated positons, a social worker is to protect the vunerable clients. In non-saturatory roles, social workers aren’t obligated to enforce the law. Usually non-saturatory roles are involved in the charity sector, which can be working with homeless people and/or drug abusers.

Not only do Social Workers work within Victim Advocacy, Prison Rehabilitation, and Parole Enforcement; they also work with Child, Family, and School Social Work, Community, Gerontological, Medical and Health, Mental Health, Military and Veterans, and Psychiatric Social Work. With that, they work with a variety of patients; people who are elderly, have learning or physical disabilities, youth, people with mental health conditions,drug and alcohol abusers, and homeless people. Settings include schools, patients’ homes, hospitals, etc.

On average the annual wage for these roles is 44,200 dollars a year. Hourly that equals out to 21.25 dollars. You can enter a Social Work degree with either a Bachelors or a Master’s degree. A high number of employees only have their Bachelor’s degree. Numerous employers also require experience or volunteer hours before considering an applicant. When it comes to making a decision on a social work program, “it is accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education, (CSWE). This is a licensing requirement in most states. This program is a program level accreditation, separate from and in addition to the institution’s accreditation; meaning that your education will give you the kind of professional preparation that is the industry standard for social work,” (Social Work Licensure, 2011). Other exams are also required; most states require the ASWB master’s exam after graduation. After completion of other requirements people can take the clinical generalist exam. After completing all the above each person is still required to be under supervision for the first few years employed.

Beyond the job tasks social workers do, they also tie very well into law enforcement. “Most social workers interact with the criminal justice system in the course of their professional duties. Social workers work in many areas such as researchers, administrators, probation officers, case managers, counselors, intake officers, therapists, and also provide courtroom testimony, court ordered evaluations for juveniles or at as expert witnesses,” (National Association of Social Work, New York City, 2008) . When it comes to the law, it is recommended for social workers to talk to an attorney practicing in their state. It is very important for social workers to understand law enforcement culture, procedures, and general orders. Most social workers in law enforcement deal with the juvenile justice system; because of this, it is also important that they are familiar with the different diversity and cultures around.

Few departments in the United States employ social workers. Social workers are employed in more than 35 police departments. They work in a variety of services; domestic violence, elder abuse and mental health. Police departments consider these possible issues: They have to secure funding for other use, the concerns of safety toward civilians, the concern that social workers are replacing police duties, the training and supervision, equipment and unmarked police cars required, and where to position the social workers in police departments. Although all these issues are considered, the practice of police social work is enhanced.

Social workers are around to make things better, but there are “the bad” that can come with it. While being a social worker, you have to be able to maintain professionalism and also follow the rules (code of conduct). “In some instances, workers have been imprisoned for misconduct for violation of confidentiality, falsification in record-keeping, malfeasance, and so forth, (Rose M. Handon, 2009)”. It is important to follow the rules of the code of conducts. Privacy and confidentiality play a huge role when it comes to social work. Rose Handon made a great point pointing out, “when social workers work with clients, a major skill that social workers must utilize in facilitating the client’s growth or change process is to earn their trust, confidence, and respect,” (Rose M. Handon, 2009). In some circumstances social workers create a much bigger relationship with their clients by becoming too attached to that person. When social workers have problems managing their emotional issues that they may bring into their profession, the client worker relationships can become very hard for them. Sometimes instead of helping, if a social worker shares his or her own experiences, it may hurt the client. It is important to remain focused on the needs of the client, and bond with them through a professional matter instead of a personal matter.

Social work is about helping those in need, Law enforcement will never go away as years pass. The demand needed by social workers is in extreme numbers and will always be needed when it comes to the law. Arrests are made every day; Most are made for petty crimes caused by young children/ young adults. Social work and law enforcement tie together due to the fact that many people fall into criminal acts and behaviors, due to different events experienced throughout their lives. Most criminal activities are caused from the “at risk” population. The system works through many different steps; collaborating the two systems only makes sense.

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