MIDWEST CITY — Debbie Keele was modest when asked why she was selected for a renewed position with the state Department of Human Services.
But Keele’s supervisor quickly chimed in, saying she is a hard worker, plain and simple.
The Midwest City Police Department and DHS have renewed an agreement to embed a DHS case worker at the police office to assist with child abuse and neglect cases.
“The concept was to be able to collaborate better and more efficiently,” Keele said. “The benefit (of) being embedded in the (department) is that they have one person to go to. I’m on call 24 hours a day with them.”
In the past, police would get whoever was on call at DHS if they needed a case worker. With this program, information is more streamlined.
“It gives us immediate access to their expertise, their resources and their knowledge,” said Maj. Robert Cornelison, the support services commander for Midwest City police. “And, of course, it’s a two-way street. It gives them access to us. There was nothing wrong with the process before, other than it just took longer. (Now) it’s the same person all the time. (Keele) becomes familiar with our detectives, our detectives become familiar with her. It becomes a more personal and professional relationship.”
With cases concerning child abuse or neglect, the focus falls to the placement and future of the children, Cornelison said.
Police Chief Brandon Clabes was involved with the program’s initial start in 2010. It only lasted about a year then. He is excited the program is back and that he played a part in its return.
“You have to think outside the box in this day and age as far as law enforcement and delivering good customer service to the people we serve,” Clabes said. “In this particular case, we think it makes us more efficient and more effective, along with DHS, so it’s a win-win for everybody involved. And especially for the kids that we’re here to protect.”
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