Iowa City Police bringing in Law Enforcement Liaison to handle mental health calls

The program is similar to one Cedar Rapids police started a few years ago and seen as helping re-direct people to get mental health support rather than go to ja
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 3:11 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Joachim Seelos has a background working with homeless youth and child welfare. He feels his training will help him as Iowa City’s Law Enforcement Liaison. He will be the first person to hold the position within Iowa City. “I feel honored. This is a position that’s definitely needed.”

Seelos won’t be a sworn officer, but he will be trained to de-escalate situations. He will tag along with law enforcement for calls they deem are for metal health purposes.

“The biggest thing I can bring is empathy,” he said. “Compassion, understanding, and just being there present, listening,”

Iowa City Police Chief Dustin LIston says he brings something in mental health resources that’s a step further than what his officers are trained in. He believes this will be a good resource for the community.

“Sometimes the mere presence of law enforcement agitates people,” he said. “And we understand that, and this is someone who is not a law enforcement professional, they’re a mental health professional and we’re very hopeful that this will reduce the chances of negative interaction with law enforcement.”

Liston says Police are researching how to determine what calls Seelos will respond to. “The difficult part is, when a call comes in, it’s hard to determine if it is a mental health call,” he said.

This is a partnership between CommUnityCrisis Services and Food Bank and Iowa City Police in Collaboration with Foundation 2.

Seelos is currently in training, with the plan to start on August 23rd. He will be stationed at the Iowa City Police Department. Liston hopes to hire more liaisons if it works out.

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