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KCPD Social Worker Offers Helping Hands

Publish Date 06/27/2023
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Paige Lopez and officers were canvassing a neighborhood to introduce themselves to residents near East Patrol recently, when they came upon a family of five, including three children, sorely lacking food.

Lopez reached out to Morning Star Church and by the end of the day, the family received a large food box.

All in a day’s work for Lopez, one of KCPD’s social workers.

“We really want to help you,” Lopez said. “People can lean on us if they need to. We want to be support. Whether it’s a phone call or someone to talk to, that’s what we’re here for.”

KCPD was the first police department in the country to embed social workers with police officers. Lopez is one of them. Riding with officers, she’s able to give residents immediate assistance. That ranges from helping them with food insecurity, homelessness, or even clothing.

Lopez is a resource for officers too. Riding with them, she’s able to show them different ways they can help.

“They may not know a resource exists, so I’ll point it out for them,” Lopez said. “Plus riding with them, I get to see different pockets of the community.”

A native of San Diego, Lopez moved to Missouri for college. She thought about teaching but decided that working out in the community was a better way for her, personally, to serve others.

When she’s not on a ride-along, Lopez will follow up on referrals from officers and detectives who have met people needing aid. They might need grief counseling, therapy, or emotional support following a violent crime. Lopez is there for all of it.

“I want the community to feel safe,” Lopez explained. “I think it’s important, especially considering how violent things have been lately, that we continue to bridge gaps. We’re working to make Kansas City safer for everyone who lives here.”