A partnership that allowed an Enid social work master’s degree candidate to do his practicum at the police department could point a direction for more mental health resources to be provided to law enforcement agencies.

Sean Byrne, a longtime Enid professional counselor, is finishing his master’s degree in social work from the University of Oklahoma. However, because he is already a licensed counselor, he was unable to do his practicum with counseling centers — which is what most master’s candidates do.

He approached Enid Police Department to see if he could do his practicum with them, and the result is they had his counseling services for seven months. This is believed to be the first practicum partnership for a master’s student with a law enforcement agency.

It certainly benefitted the police department, which took Byrne along with them on ride-alongs to help with mental health analyses of folks they came in contact with. He also conducted mental health training and participated in several critical incident briefings.

We could be on to something here. Although Byrne’s situation was special from most social work master’s students, perhaps a template could be developed that would allow more of these types of partnerships.

Additionally, for those who already are licensed professional counselors, perhaps some special type of certification could be developed for those who work with local law enforcement agencies to help them better analyze and deal with mental health situations they come into contact with in the field.

Law enforcement agencies will tell you that mental health issues are very much on the increase in their field of work. We all know mental health resources are scarce, so developing unique partnerships like this could be very helpful.

We appreciate Enid Police Department for being a test case, so to speak, for this type of program, and it sounds like it has been a success. Let’s see if this can be replicated with other law enforcement agencies and social work master’s candidates.

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