Social Worker’s Professional Skills Complement Police Department Services

Sandra Rincon QMHP, MSW 

When police officers or firefighters respond to a call, they often find that crisis intervention for a traumatized victim, mental health assistance, or other services are desperately needed. That’s when the expertise of Sandra Rincon, the St. Charles Police Social Worker comes in. 

Since 2014, the St. Charles Police Department has benefitted from having a social worker through a partnership with the Association for Individual Development (A.I.D). For the last two years, Sandra Rincon has filled that role, serving as a liaison between the police and fire departments, the community, and the various social service agencies that serve our residents.

The Police Social Worker is called to provide crisis intervention, providing immediate mental and emotional support for someone experiencing trauma, and to offer referrals for additional help or treatment. Most often, Rincon works behind the scenes with friends and family seeking help for their loved ones, and connecting them to additional resources. “My focus is to provide emotional support,” said Rincon, who is on call 24/7 to offer assistance when needed. “I can respond to the person while they are experiencing the crisis and work with them on the spot. This helps me build a rapport quickly so they know that I am here to best assist them with what they need at that moment, as well as after the crisis.”  

Deputy Police Chief Chuck Pierce sees the impact Rincon has made in the community. “Often when the police are called to a mental health crisis we are dealing with behavior that is really more of a symptom of mental health rather than the root cause,” Pierce said. The St. Charles Police Department understands this and that is where Rincon can help. Her efforts are directed at treating the root cause of those behaviors. When Rincon is called in, she assesses the client and connects them to services that are crucial in managing those issues long-term. “I can’t tell you how many families have contacted us after Sandra has assisted and told me about the success their family member has had after meeting with Sandra,” Pierce said. Pierce went on to say, “We have seen a decrease in repeat calls to people who work with Sandra after calling police and that is success.” 

As an employee of A.I.D., Rincon contracts her services with the Police Department and is on-site, full-time. “Because I work for an agency and contract with the Police Department, I can help clients access all the programs and resources A.I.D. offers,” she said.  

Rincon holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of St. Francis, Joliet, Ill., and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Aurora University, Aurora, Ill. Her background is in crisis intervention and she has training in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIST). She completed internships with Fox Valley Hands of Hope and A.I.D. before transitioning into her current role with the St. Charles Police Department. 

Rincon also offers educational training and leads discussions about issues concerning the community. Recently, she led a presentation on COVID loss and grief, where she discussed unemployment, homelessness, death, and the impact of missing out on important events during the pandemic. 

Her goal is to reduce repeat callers to 911 by addressing the root of the problem and connecting her clients to the right resources. Rincon believes it is essential to recognize every client has unique obstacles—such as limited or no access to cell phones, computers, the internet, or clients experiencing homelessness. She is bilingual and also acknowledges language and culture can be barriers for clients seeking help. 

“It’s important that I advocate for those vulnerable populations such as our elderly clients, victims of crime, and children. I understand we don’t live in a perfect world and I want to make sure people have what they need readily available to them. Everybody at one point in their life needs help. And I would say at one point in my life I reached out for support as well. And that personal story that I have myself and the impact that social work had on me ultimately led to my motivation to do this work.”