(This story was updated to include additional information at 9:19 a.m.)
FRIDAY, Jan. 7 — The Lansing Police Department will soon be searching for a new social worker after Jan Bidwell, the first and only person to have served in the role for the city, called it quits this week after about three years — reportedly because of health issues exacerbated by the job.
Bidwell announced her resignation yesterday evening in a Facebook post:
“It was a hard decision, but necessary,” Bidwell wrote, later adding in a comment that “the job was so much harder than I could ever explain.” She also noted: “Impacted cardiac stuff finally.”
She also added: “It was a hard job, very uplifting in so many ways, but took its toll.”
Lansing became the first city in the state to embed a social worker directly into the ranks of its Police Department when it hired Bidwell in March 2019. It was her job to “function as a bridge” between the Police and the many agencies that work to serve those with cognitive disabilities, as well as those struggling with homelessness and substance abuse, according to the city website. The idea at the time was to allow officers to focus more exclusively on public safety rather than wrap-around services for local residents who needed help — not lights and sirens.
Mayor Andy Schor announced plans last year to hire a second social worker at LPD, though that person hasn’t started — meaning Bidwell’s resignation will create a gap in services.
A spokesman for Schor's office noted that a second social worker has been hired and will begin work "as soon as possible." A search for Bidwell's replacement is also underway. City officials said they "hope to move quickly."
“The social worker’s role begins where law enforcement ends,” according to a page on the Lansing Police Department’s website. “Having a social worker in the Police Department offers more extensive and innovative ways to help the Lansing community become stronger and more unified. All citizens deserve to get help when needed, and the social worker will work with the community to address the needs of those who might otherwise fall between the cracks.”
Bidwell, a state licensed social worker, brought more than 40 years of experience to the job, along with a master’s degree in social work and seven years of postgraduate training. She has worked in cities across the country and once advised former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine on child abuse preventinon as a member of his transition team, according to the city website.
Bidwell also volunteered on the Ingham County Health Board and for the Ingham County Opioid Abuse Prevention Initiative. In her resignation announcement on Facebook yesterday, Bidwell also noted that she was “grateful for the profound experience of serving Lansing” since 2019.
“Everything is fine,” Bidwell commented. “Have some beautiful, non-traumatizing opportunities. The job was so much harder than I could ever explain. Impacted cardiac stuff finally.”
Bidwell’s city-issued cell phone has been decommissioned. She didn’t respond to messages on Facebook yesterday or today.
"Jan did not give any indication or reason as to why she was leaving her position," according to a statement from a city spokesman. "LPD knows that working in law enforement is a high-stress job and we make services available to assist all employees who need them."
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