Why Essex? Howard Center Community Outreach Team

Interview with Rachael Castillo & Jeff Cook, Community Outreach Team Members

The Essex Police Department has partnered with Howard Center to use the services of their new Community Outreach Team. The Community Outreach Team is an on-call group of social workers who are available to help residents handle a variety of problems.

The Community Outreach Team would be called in instances where someone needs help or has unmet social service needs; however this help does not rise to the level of requiring law enforcement intervention even if law enforcement is contacted. While the Team assists law enforcement at times and attends calls with them, the Team also diverts cases from the criminal justice system and get the person the correct level of support that they need. The team is also able to provide proactive supports, to prevent individuals from entering into a crisis state. Team members have no such thing as a typical day-they can be dispatched for anything from panhandling, helping a homeless individual access housing and economic services, connecting someone with substance use disorder with supports or connecting someone on the verge of a mental health crisis with appropriate services (including First Call for Chittenden County or therapy).

Jeff and Rachel highlighted that fact that calls from individuals to the Community Outreach Team are confidential. For calls that generate from the police department, the Team works collaboratively with law enforcement to better serve our community. The response time is also very quick, and most callers are connected with a member of the team within fifteen minutes.

The Community Outreach Team handles Essex as well as five other towns in Chittenden County.  The attached poster gives more information on what types of situations the Outreach Team might be able to help with.  If you would like to learn more about the team or to seek assistance, please call 802-488-7778.  Please note that this number should not be used in emergency situations and is not a replacement for 911. 

Why Essex?  The Essex Police Department has been very supportive of the work we do, and we are happy to be here and helping the community.” -Jeff Cook

Why Essex? is a weekly(ish) column highlighting the people and places that make Essex an interesting and special place. Have an idea for the column? E-mail Darby Mayville at darby@essexjunction.org.

Photo Credits: The Howard Center & Colchester Sun