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History and Role of Social Work in Law Enforcement (From Social Work in Juvenile and Criminal Justice Settings, Third Edition, P 106-112, 2007, Albert R. Roberts and David W. Springer, eds. -- See NCJ-217866)

NCJ Number
Albert R. Roberts
Date Published
7 pages
This literature review examined the history of police and social-worker collaboration, with attention to what has impeded the development of such collaboration in the United States.
This chapter recommends training all police officers in how to help various types of troubled persons they may encounter while on patrol, the development of social work teams within police departments to provide diagnostic and referral services for individuals taken into custody by police, and the development of practice models for social worker-police collaboration. The review did not find any evidence that during the first half of the 20th century police departments defined and provided allocations for social workers; however, many of the early policewomen had social work training prior to being hired by police departments. They performed police social work roles in their protective work with children and youth. The history of police social work is thus often synonymous with that of women's bureaus in police departments and of policewomen generally in the first quarter of the 20th century. The establishment of these women's bureaus was a direct result of police departments' objective of providing better protective and preventive social services for women and children. In addition to the harassment the early policewomen endured from the press and their male coworkers, there were other obstacles that impeded the expansion of the police social worker movement. The most significant impediments were political considerations, the lack of interest and support from citizens groups, the lack of funds from private organizations and foundations, insufficient support from elected officials, lack of coordination between police organizations and national social welfare enterprises, and limited opportunities for social work students to take course and field work in the structure and function of police departments. 23 references