Bardstown Police Chief hires UK Social Work Student and her therapy dog on Police Force

UK graduate Olivia Raley joins Bardstown Police as their first social worker, supported by her therapy Husky, Maverick.

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Lexington, KY – Across the Commonwealth, Law Enforcement agencies are hiring social workers as pivotal additions to traditional community policing that aid in addressing individuals experiencing crises associated with addiction, mental illness, abuse, housing insecurities, and related challenges.

Bardstown Police Chief Kim Kraeszig recently joined the initiatives of Kentucky Police Forces across the state including Louisville, Nicholasville, Alexandria, Erlanger, Lexington, and Hazard among others, who are advancing the vital partnership between law enforcement and social services by hiring UK graduate and MSW student, Olivia Raley.

As the first social worker on the force, Raley is utilizing her extensive education to help the force ensure that people in crisis receive immediate support and connection to essential resources. For Raley, this is a dream realized. “I thought the only opportunity for me in the criminal justice space would be the FBI or maybe an attorney in treatment courts,” Raley shared that she’s “happy to be working with such a compassionate and forward-thinking team” at the Bardstown Police Department.

Aiding in Raley’s mission is Maverick, her therapy Husky, who has become an integral part of the department’s support system. Maverick’s calming presence and ability to sense stress and trauma exemplify the healing power of animal-assisted therapy. Raley says Maverick will sit in with victims during high stress interviews, providing peace and emotional support.

With her position, Raley and Chief Kraeszig have created intervention methods that prioritize treatment and access to available community resources over immediate incarceration, already demonstrating significant results in crisis intervention and helping their county to reduce recidivism. Bardstown is on the cusp of becoming a “recovery ready” community, a movement that Raley is passionate about and actively involved in shaping.

The University of Kentucky College of Social Work is proud to have alumni like Raley, who embody the values and skills taught within our programs. Her work in Bardstown is not only changing lives but also advancing holistic approaches to the partnership between community policing and social work.

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For over 85 years, the College of Social Work (CoSW) at the University of Kentucky has been a leader in education. Our mission is clear: Through rigorous research, excellence in instruction, and steadfast service, the CoSW works to improve the human condition. Always, in all ways.

As the state’s flagship university, our mission is actualized through our deeds. Our faculty are renowned academicians dedicated to fostering the development of high-quality practitioners and researchers. As a college, we promote community and individual well-being through translational research and scholarship, exemplary teaching, and vital community engagement. We are committed to the people and social institutions throughout Kentucky, the nation, and the world.