TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Terre Haute Police Department announced Friday, they filled their Police Social Worker position.

Over the course of the last two years, the Terre Haute Police Department (THPD) has been working to secure grant funding to develop a police social work program.

In a press conference Friday morning Terre Haute Police Chief, Shawn Keen introduced their new hire, Jarom Hawker.

“I’m excited and looking forward to serving the community as well as the officers,” Hawker said.

Hawker is a licensed social worker and THPD’s first Police Social Worker.

“His interview was outstanding; we were all very well impressed with it,” Keen said.

THPD officials said they utilized mental health professionals as well as command staff and officers in the police department for the interview process.

“He’s clearly motivated, that came across in the interview,” Keen said. “We talked to about seven or eight people. We wanted to make sure that everyone had a good perspective on this, we had buy-in and we had the right people, mental health professionals in that interview to give us guidance. And we think we’ve absolutely selected the right person in Jarom.”

“I graduated with my undergrad at Indiana State University, so I know a little bit about the community,” Hawker said.

Hawker went on to earn a master’s degree from IUPUI before working with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.

“I worked in Marion County for about a year,” Hawker said. “With housing in code enforcement, actually and I went out with officers on some vacates and houses and stuff, so I do have some experience working with officers.”

Keen said the program aims to reduce the number of repeat calls and welfare checks the department receives while connecting those in need with community services.

“I feel my role is working in collaboration with officers as well as the community health professionals to find out what works best for the department and for the individuals they serve in the community,” Hawker said.

The goals for the position?

“To address the community’s issues as well as to help enhance the mental health of our officers.”

Hawker said his hope, while working with the officers and community health professionals is to bridge the gap in providing services to community members supporting the role of the officers to in turn accomplish more.

“It’s a statement from Chief Keen and the department, that we care, that we want to serve, and we’re willing to adapt to provide services to you,” Hawker said.

Hawker started at the department on Monday. He spent the week meeting many employees of the THPD and Keen said next week they will focus on getting him acquainted with community partners.