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Appleton Police Chief Polly Olson to Keynote Samaritan Luncheon

She will present on the relatively new Community Crisis Response Team

Appleton Police Chief Polly Olson will present at the upcoming Silent Samaritan Campaign Thank You Luncheon on the relatively new Community Crisis Response Team. This collaboration and pilot program kicked off in January 2022. This pilot program is a combined effort between Outagamie County Health and Human Services with the City of Appleton and the N.E.W. Mental Health Connection’s Project Zero, working to enhance police-involved responses to mental health crises by offering mental health assessments, referrals for mental health services, and safety planning in the community.

The intersection of mental health and law enforcement has become an increasingly important topic in recent years. Law enforcement officers often find themselves responding to calls involving individuals with mental health issues, and their interactions with these individuals can have significant consequences for both the individual and the officer.  It’s critical we create strategies to safely and effectively handle calls for service involving community members who are suffering from a mental health issue or crisis,” Chief Olson explained.

Olson is Appleton’s first female Police Chief. In her 22 years serving the Appleton Police Department, she has held a variety of positions, such as patrol officer, school resource officer, lieutenant, patrol campaign, captain of investigations and support services, and assistant chief.

She is passionate about bringing awareness to issues surrounding mental health. In 2012, she worked with John Wallschlaeger (retired) to develop one of the first county-wide peer support programs. She served as Coordinator for the Outagamie County Peer Support Team for several years. In 2017, she presented at the Destination Zero Officer Wellness Conference in Orlando, FL, inspiring other police departments to establish their own peer support programs.

The cost to attend the luncheon is a $100 donation to Samaritan. To learn more and/or register, visit www.samaritan-counseling.com/silent-samaritan/. Proceeds from the event support the Samaritan Fund, which was created to provide fee assistance to low-income, underinsured, or uninsured adults access to quality mental health care at Samaritan.

For the third year in a row, Samaritan will present a “Selfless Samaritan” award to an individual or group that has gone above and beyond their dedication to their profession, co-workers, neighbors, and community. There were seven nominees this year.


About Samaritan, Inc.

Samaritan, Inc. is a non-profit provider of spiritually integrated mental health care to individuals and families across Northeast Wisconsin. First established in 1970 and now accredited by the Solihten Institute, Samaritan’s professional therapists and counselors specialize in integrating faith, spirituality, and cultural values in psychotherapy. Children and adults need not have a particular faith or spirituality practice to seek care at Samaritan for their depression, anxiety, grief, adjustments, and other struggles. Samaritan is a certified outpatient alcohol and substance abuse facility. Centro Esperanza is Samaritan’s Spanish-language counseling service, and its Mental Health Ministry Initiative supports clergy and members of faith communities in their encounters with people experiencing mental illness.

Samaritan is also home to the Wellness Screen program, the on-site mental health screening for K-12 students in 14 Wisconsin school districts across 54 sites. Thrive Calumet features both screening and on-site counseling services to students, families, and staff in five Calumet County school districts. Samaritan launched Candid™ in 2022 to make its youth screening tool available to mental health providers and schools across the United States.

Samaritan moved into its newly constructed counseling center at 1205 Province Terrace in Menasha in June 2022, and has locations in Kaukauna, Oshkosh, and New London. Learn more at samaritanfoxvalley.com. Sign up for Samaritan’s monthly e-newsletter here.