CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank has hired Joachim "Joah" Seelos to serve as the new Law Enforcement Liaison. In his new role, Seelos will work closely with the Iowa City Police Department to assist residents experiencing a mental health crisis.
The LE Liaison model is being implemented by CommUnity and the Iowa City Police Department in collaboration with Foundation 2. The new position will offer formal and informal cross-training between law enforcement and behavioral health disciplines, alternative response and intervention for those experiencing a mental health crisis and an increase in follow up and resource connection for individuals and families. The goal of this partnership is to best serve individuals experiencing a mental health crisis; avoid unnecessary arrests, reduce repeat 911 calls, decrease law enforcement contact, and connect community members to available resources.
“The Iowa City Police Department is looking forward to the partnership with the new LE Liaison,” said Police Chief Dustin Liston. “We feel this is a step in the right direction to provide much needed services to those experiencing a mental health crisis that does not involve the traditional law enforcement response. We are hopeful that with early intervention by the LE Liaison, the potential for negative outcomes will be reduced.”
Seelos is originally from Lafayette, La., and moved to Iowa City from Kansas City, Mo., where he graduated from Park University and worked extensively with homeless youth and in child welfare.
“I feel honored to be in this position as the Mental Health/Law Enforcement Liaison and bring a deeper sense of empathy to the Iowa City community,” said Seelos.
Seelos will undergo extensive training for the next month and will begin working with police at the end of August.
The LE Liaison position is part of the City's plan to restructure the police department and divert calls from law enforcement to other professionals, when appropriate. You can learn about the restructuring plan here.