Lake Forest Police Department Welcomes Full-Time Social Worker
For the first time, the Lake Forest Police Department has hired a full-time social worker. The newly created position will provide counseling for clients, conduct critical incident stress debriefings, and offer other vital services to the community.
Lauren Perez joined the Lake Forest Police Department as a social worker in late May. “I’m incredibly excited to join a police department that understands and has been proactive regarding mental health,” Perez said. “I’m excited to support the officers in their day-to-day responsibilities, establish relationships, and build trust with the community.”
Chief of Police Karl Walldorf noted that even though the department once featured a one-day-a-week social worker, creating the full-time role was an important priority.
“For many years, calls involving a mental health component have increased for the Lake Forest Police Department,” Walldorf said. “When we added a part-time social worker in 2015, the immediate feedback from clients was overwhelmingly positive. However, we realized over time that our demand exceeded our ability to supply services. We hope that with Lauren on board full-time, we can better serve our community’s needs.”
A new responsibility for the role involves group counseling. Creating a support group for police spouses, a grief support group with the Dickinson Hall Senior Center, and a teen support group with CROYA (Committee Representing Our Young Adults) have all been discussed.
Perez’ experience with counseling and crisis intervention is broad. Since becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in 2016, she has worked in community mental health, providing counseling and community support services at the Lake County Health Department, as a school social worker at Virtual Connections Academy, and inpatient hospitalization as the Associate Clinical Director of Social Services at Streamwood Behavioral Healthcare System. She obtained her Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois Chicago’s Jane Addams College of Social Work and her Bachelor’s Degree from DePaul University.
Perez is looking forward to what’s ahead.
“Advocacy, linkage, and education are at the foundation of everything I do as a social worker,” she said. “This role will give me the ability to engage the Lake Forest community in these areas for years to come.”
Dana Olson, Communications Manager