Leilany Tran began work this month as the first police social worker in Lancaster.
Her role in the city department is to prevent repeated police calls by identifying and helping solve individual and family problems such as mental illness, drug addiction and homelessness.
Police social workers supplement patrol officers’ front-line work, often following up in the wake of an incident to address its causes or its repercussions. Researchers say their efforts can help reduce the volume of crisis calls over time.
Tran will refer people to agencies that can help them. She’ll collaborate with community leaders to address social needs, and she’ll share information and research on best practices with her police colleagues and the broader community.
“I’m really excited to see where I can take this position,” Tran said.
Tran, 30, was born and raised in Lancaster and most recently worked for Dauphin County’s adult case management unit, helping individuals with psychological problems, drug addiction, intellectual disabilities — “a little bit of everything,” she said. She and her husband live in Hershey.
Languages: English and Spanish.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Millersville University. She will graduate from Temple University this fall with a master’s degree in social work.
Family: Husband, Tommy, and 14-month-old daughter, Mila, whom Tran says is “the light of my life.”
Pets: Oliver, the family dog.
Motivation: Tran credits her motivation to family and her upbringing in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. “Growing up, my father always instilled in me to help where I can and to try to be a positive influence.”
What people don’t realize about social work: “It’s a very broad field. ... We can work with anyone. It doesn’t have to be someone in dire need.”
Key traits for a social worker: “Every situation is different. So, (you have) to be empathetic in every situation and open-minded and meet the person where they’re at.”
Favorite indulgence: “I’m a foodie. We love to go out on the weekend and splurge and eat at different restaurants in the city.”
On being a mom: “I love to spend time with my daughter, going to the park or taking her to Lake Tobias, building memories with her.”
On staying active: “I go to the gym when I have the time. I go bike riding. I’ve started doing Spartan (obstacle course) races.”
On making a difference: “One of the things I hope to do is (to help) bridge the gap between the community and police. We’re here to protect and serve, and we care about the community we work with.”