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Cookeville Council To Consider UCHRA Agreement Thursday

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader

Cookeville City Council will consider an agreement with UCHRA to provide social work assistance for those in need.

City Manager James Mills said he proposed a five-month pilot program through UCHRA’s Substance Abuse Solutions Program. It would provide assistance 24/7 to Cookeville Police in the areas of mental health, homelessness and substance abuse.

The city would pay $4,100 per month for the program. The SAS program would hire a dedicated individual to serve the city, but Mills said all those in the program would be available to the city. UCHRA would provide weekly reports on the program.

“We’ll be able to judge whether this is something we want to continue long-term with,” Mills said. “We would know whether or not we want to go into a longer term contract with SAS.”

Mills said he hopes the program can provide aid to those in need. It will also aid police.

“Often times our police officers spend hours and hours with these individuals,” Mills said. “This will free them up to do more of what is traditionally though of as police work.”

SAS would act as a clearinghouse for what programs and services are available to help.

“There’s a continuity, they don’t just hand someone off,” Council Member Laurin Wheaton said. “They follow-up with the person to make sure they’re getting the resources, are they getting the help. They really make try to make a long-term solution.”

Long-term, Mills said he sees the need for full-time employees within the city to provide such enhanced services.

“I think this is the best way to do a trial, to do a pilot, to see if this is something that works, where it doesn’t work best,” Mills said.

If approved by City Council Thursday night, the program could begin as soon as Friday, Mills said. It would be reevaluated at the end of January.


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