Document Type

Government Document

Publication Date



This report addresses the social work/law enforcement relationship and the role of police and other human service agencies in dealing with community problems. Traditionally, law enforcement and human service agencies share the most difficult portion of the others’ client caseloads but there has been little interagency communication or cooperation. Effective intervention and prevention requires more than police action and goes beyond the capability of any single agency.

Social service has always been a key part of policing while serving victims of crime and offenders has been a major emphasis of social work. Law enforcement and social work have served the same target groups but with varying success. The community now demands that both institutions combine resources and skills to reach those in crisis and victims of crime.

Problem oriented community policing is still a work in progress but there is consensus on four elements: prevention, problem solving, partnerships and organizational change. Using these elements as a foundation, this document describes police/social work partnerships that serve as a community response to crisis situations signaled by calls for police service. Heretofore, community policing has focused on developing relationships with individual citizens through foot/bike patrols, dispersed “community policing” sub-stations and neighborhood improvement. Building partnerships with human service agencies has received far less attention. Social work/police partnerships are the next logical step in the development of community policing. They meet the mandate to work together for the benefit of the whole community and to deal with chronic repeat calls for service. These calls signal a serious problem usually involving multiple forms of abuse and indicate the need for summoning the entire village to provide effective intervention and preventive services.

The study was conducted to learn about the development, operation and impact of social work/police partnerships on recurring domestic violence and associated deep-rooted police service delivery problems. This document describes effective practices of five successful social work/police partnership models. Chapters I and II give the background of the problem. Chapter III describes five successful partnership models and Chapter IV provides a composite of critical effective practices gleaned from the study sites. Chapter V outlines steps for assessing the problem. Chapter VI and VII are designed to serve as a project development checklist for program planning, implementation and assessment of effectiveness.


Prepared for:
The Governor’s Crime Commission
North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety