Superior police can officially begin the search for a coordinated response specialist to help sworn officers more effectively address chronic issues like mental health, substance abuse and homelessness.

The Superior City Council on Tuesday, June 1, approved creating the new civilian position in the police department.

Police Chief Nicholas Alexander has been advocating for a social worker to connect people in crisis with community resources for years.

The City Council last year allocated funding for that position to work with officers to provide an additional layer of care. The position evolved to a coordinated response specialist to broaden the pool of candidates who would qualify for the job. Social workers in Wisconsin are required to have specific credentials that could have eliminated qualified individuals.

The coordinated response specialist will be responsible for building relationships with community resources to develop solutions for people experiencing homelessness, chemical dependency and mental health issues.

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The individual who fills the position will be a civilian employee who provides short-term case management to connect people to resources available in the community, assist in training law enforcement officers in crisis intervention and will respond to calls with sworn officers.

Councilor Ruth Ludwig said the position was created in collaboration with organizations that would help serve people for whom it is intended.

“Our police officers and other first responders interact with people with chronic needs on a daily basis,” Ludwig said. “However, they don’t have the time or expertise required to seek out and refer those citizens the resources needed to help them in the long term. We believe this new coordinated response specialist position will fill that gap.”

The measure garnered unanimous approval by the council.