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How Cookeville’s Pilot Program Could Help Those In Need

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader

A five-month pilot program between Cookeville Police and UCHRA could mean immediate help for people in need.

Glen Sayes directs the Substance Abuse Solutions Program for UCHRA. The city wants to contract with SAS for social assistance in the field. Sayes said responding to someone in need of intervention will play out in two different ways.

Sayes said if there is a crime being committed, his team will not respond on scene and intervene in police work. If someone is not committing a crime, Sayes said an officer will call UCHRA to get involved on scene.

“It’s important for the officers to make that clarification, I’m going to call someone to come in and meet with you and see if we can resolve this, ‘you know Bill this is the third time you’ve been out and you’ve been intoxicated and out walking on the streets and I’m not going to arrest you but you do need to get help, can I call someone that’ll meet with you and help you get the help you need,” Sayes said.

At that point, the SAS team will intervene with a long-term goal of two years of case work. Sayes said keeping in touch with an individual by phone is the preferred method, but cellphone minutes can cause problems.

“We sometimes have to identify where are they living, where are they staying, can we come by and visit them, but yes we will do outreach of actually searching for a person we know has requested help,” Sayes said.

Of course individuals have to want the help for the program to work. Sayes said that will be one of the key factors to identify.

“You can’t make a person do these things unless they’re motivated by their circumstances that they want to make a change in their life and their lifestyle,” Sayes said.

Cookeville City Council will vote on the five-month pilot program Thursday.


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