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Cayce Police Department's new social work program showing promise

The program launched in January 2023 following West Columbia piloting it several years ago.

CAYCE, S.C. — Cayce Police say about 80 to 90% of phone calls they get have some kind of need for a social worker, which is something their department doesn't have expertise in.

That's why local groups believe a new integrated social work program is necessary.

So, since January of this year, the Cayce Police Department has implemented a new social work program that was first launched in West Columbia. 

"If we help one person, it's a success," Cayce Police Chief Chris Cowan said. 

Cowan tells News 19 they've helped more than just one person, more like over a dozen. 

"The services that a social worker or the expertise that a social worker can provide would far more benefit than handcuffs or a police report or the back of a patrol car or police services at all," Cowan said. "So, the social worker program is designed to give us services that maybe traditional policing hasn't been able to provide." 

Social work intern Moira Smoak is a masters program student from Walden University. 

The police department provides her office space, and Serve and Connect, a local non-profit group recruited her, screened her and monitors her progress with this program. 

She tells News 19 she goes through police call logs to see if anyone shows a sign of a need, like in the categories of mental health, finance, employment, or therapy.

Once she reaches that person and connects them, she explains the feeling is rewarding. 

"It feels great. Anytime somebody talks to me I'm always a little surprised that there's so many people that appreciate us reaching out, even if they many not necessarily need any resources. A lot of times when we talk to people, they'll tell us thank you for reaching out, we really appreciate it," Smoak said.

Smoak tells News 19 often times people just want someone to listen. They want that human connection and contact from someone making sure they're doing well. 

According to Serve and Connect, the first year or two will have interns with a future goal of hiring part time employees.


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