Social workers will be responding to calls by January, St. Pete police chief says

The cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg will be changing how their police departments respond to certain 911 calls.  If someone is having a mental health breakdown, a social worker will soon respond along with an officer.   

“We are going on calls [right now] that we are not so qualified to handle,” St. Pete Police Chief Anthony Holloway told FOX 13 on Tuesday.

When Holloway announced the program earlier this summer, he said this could happen as soon as October. But he clarified this week that the October deadline was to get the funding. Holloway says they are now starting the process to hire 20 to 25 social workers by January.  

RELATED: Police departments slow to address need for mental health support in law enforcement

“Now we know where the funding is and now, we have to put things out on the streets. This can’t be done in one day. You have to find the qualified people to do it,” Holloway said.  

In Tampa, Chief Brian Dugan has yet to say when social workers will be responding to calls.   

The commitment by both Tampa and St. Pete comes as nationwide protests continue following cases of police brutality.