PETERSBURG, Va. -- Petersburg Police social worker Genevieve Lohr is making a difference in her community.
Hired in 2021, Lohr's main job is to help people who call the police but don't necessarily need to help of an armed police officer.
"I’m so grateful for the help she’s given to me and [my children]," Petersburg resident Cherry Jones said. “I called her on the phone, and immediately she calmed my fears, she was giving me the support, letting me know that, the decisions I was trying to make for [my children] were good decisions.”
Lohr said her job is not that of a police officer.
"I have no desire to even be a police officer," she said. "Police officers are able to assist with certain things but I’m able to help with other things. Sometimes those other things are actually what people need."
Part of the reason Lohr's job was created was to free up police officers to investigate and deter crime.
“Our police officers aren’t social workers," she said. "They’re not supposed to know all those things.”
Things like helping people beyond their initial call to the police.
"They may need additional assistance in navigating those systems or referrals to additional services, so I’m able to provide those things," she said.
Over her 12 months on the job, Lohr said she's provided 1810 contacts, referrals, or services to people who've called for help.
"Sometimes people need help with resources, with food, housing, clothing. Sometimes it’s mental health concerns, so making sure someone is connected to District 19 or someone else," she said.
“Right now, I’m only working with victims when an officer refers that case to me. I’m not looking at every single victim."
While she is called to respond to some crime scenes, her job's similarities to the responding police end there.
“Everything a police officer does, I don’t do any of that, but the things that I do, the majority our officers don’t do," she said. "So it really goes very well together without an overlap or duplication of services."
Jones is grateful for Lohr's role in the community.
“She always says," Jones recalled, "everyone deserves a chance to be happy, everyone deserves a chance to be treated with respect and dignity."
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