Mental Health Liaison reflects on six months working with the Iowa City Police Department

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) – Joachim Seelos is not a sworn-in police officer in Iowa City. But he’s become a key partner in more than half the calls they’ve gone on over the last six months.

“It’s helping calm a situation down, or helping to mediate a situation. You know, just like officers I am seeing people at their worst, ”he said.

All Iowa City Police Officers are trained in escalation techniques. Seelos’ training and experience goes a step further during mental health crisis.

“I always tell my clients, ‘What can I do for you? What do you need from me at this moment? ‘ And a lot of times it’s either sitting down, putting a safety plan together, ”he said.

A lot of the cases Seelos works on aren’t always extreme mental health cases. Since starting this position last August, he says a lot of the calls he responded to are from people simply needing guidance.

Officers are now calling me and saying, ‘Hey, can you go to his home? It’s good, they just really need your help, ‘”said Seelos.

Sergeant Andrew McKnight recalls one particular instance where Seelos’ efforts were especially appreciated.

“I received a couple of phone calls in the same day from two separate family members talking about how important it was to have the mental health liaison there. They were thanking me and the department for having that position, ”said Sereant McKnight.

As he reflects on the last six months, Seelos and the rest of the department are also looking forward to the future of this position, hopefuly to assemble a whole team of mental health liaisons.

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