SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Interns from the University of Arkansas’ School of Social Work are helping Springdale police respond to crises.

The social work interns are able to dive further into certain cases and connect Springdale residents with lasting help. The program is wrapping up its first year, but the department said it’s going to continue welcoming UA students into the station.

Kelly Krout is a master’s student at the University of Arkansas. She’s an intern with the Springdale Police Department, who sometimes responds to calls with officers.

“It is connecting the community to policing and kind of a different way and being able to be more community helpers,” said Krout.

What she’s found is because she’s not an officer, people have been more willing to clue her in on what’s going on.

“We’re not in uniform. It’s very unassuming, not intimidating, and the officers really seem to appreciate having someone with a little bit more training in social service,” said Krout.

The extra hand from interns has allowed officers to better focus their response efforts, according to Captain Derek Wright.

“We wanted to work towards being able to provide follow-up services and kind of reduce the workload on some of our officers, for the people in need,” said Captain Wright.

Wright said Springdale PD can be overwhelmed with calls at times, with some people calling up to 30 times a day. Krout and the department’s other interns are able to invest time into these people, helping find solutions while alleviating a task for the officers.

“To have the ability to actually help them rather than putting a Band-Aid on the immediate situation to help them and make a lifelong impact on them, I think is one of the coolest things about this program,” said Wright.

He said interns like Krout are connecting people to housing, transportation, and jobs and finding them consistent mental health care.

Captain Wright said he hopes to continue growing the program and eventually hire full-time social work members to add to their community crisis response team.

The Fayetteville Police have been running a similar program since 2021. Last year, the FPD partnered with the University of Arkansas School of Social Work to bring in two, master’s level interns to assist on calls for service.

Shortly after, one of those two interns had to leave the program, but according to Sergeant Patrick Hanby, the one intern, working about 22 hours a week, has made a noticeable impact.

Sergeant Hanby said integrating social work into their program is something that is happening around the country.

“We’ve had almost 360 referrals to the program thus far. We’ve had over 104 or 105 people that have consented to some sort of resource or help so, really able to go through that, and that’s only with part-time,” said Sergeant Hanby.

Fayetteville is one of just 33 police departments nationwide to receive a grant from the Department of Justice to help fund social workers. The city has agreed to match that grant to add two full-time officers to the crisis intervention team at FPD.