At the beginning of February 2016, the Madison Police Department launched a new initiative called the Veterans Outreach Program. This program serves to connect MPD military veterans with veterans in the community who have had police contact or who may be experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis. The purpose of this program is to provide peer support to veterans, to connect veterans to needed services and to hopefully prevent any future police calls for service.
Ideally, veterans in the community are paired with an MPD veteran who shares a similar military background. Outreach can be conducted in multiple ways – in the form of home visits, phone calls, and monthly "coffee with a cop" gatherings at the Dryhootch organization of Madison. Outreach will be conducted in conjunction with the MPD mental health officers and our in-house crisis worker if needed. The Veterans Outreach Program is completely voluntary. Veterans in the community will only be asked to meet with MPD veterans if they feel comfortable enough to do so and follow-up will only be conducted as needed.
This type of specialized police response is crucial in developing trust, particularly with those veterans who may have had negative experiences with law enforcement in the past. We hope this program will act as a means by which veterans receive the first-rate services they deserve.
PO A. Naylor