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Social Work MSW Works for Arlington Police Department, Victim Services Coordinator

Carnesha Collins, UTA School of Social Work MSW Alumna
Carnesha Collins, UTA School of Social Work MSW Alumna

A School of Social Work alumna is personifying the term ‘Agent of Change’ within the community of Arlington, as she celebrates her one year anniversary as the Victims Services Coordinator for the Arlington Police Department.

Carnesha Collins, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC), attended the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work from 2012 to 2014 and earned her Masters of Social Work Degree. However, her journey in becoming a social worker was an enlightening one as she realized her full potential throughout her studies.

“I received my Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and I had always been handy in that field,” Collins said. “But I literally didn't know what I was going to do, however I knew that I liked to help people.”

Collins explains the top ranked UTA Masters of Social Work program in 2012 prepared her for working with children and families and eventually for her most recent role within the Arlington Police Department

“The biggest impact from the School of Social Work came when I started to take face to face classes and learned social work concepts and how to apply them,” Collins said. “At the time I was working for Child Protective Services, and I facilitated a substance abuse group called Recovery Offering Alternatives to Drugs (ROADS).”

Working with the Recovery Offering Alternatives to Drugs group was where Collins first became interested in the issues of substance abuse, and she realized how applicable a social work degree would be to her career. After completing her first course on substance abuse in the MSW program, Collins knew this was where she was supposed to be.

“I took that class and I think it really prepared me for each role that I’ve had so far, because unfortunately every role that I've had has dealt with substance use as the undermining issue when it comes to mental health or other dynamics when we encounter people in need,” Collins said. “But I'm very proficient at identifying substance use issues, and I think that those classes really prepared me to be able to not just help in family systems but to help in so much more.”

After completing the MSW program, Collins first worked for Child Protective Services and later as a supervisor at John Peter Smith Hospital.

Since December 2017, Collins holds an executive role as the coordinator of the Victim Services Department at the Arlington Police Department, and she oversees a team of 11 individuals, including 8 experienced counselors that provide immediate resources to victims of violent crimes within the community.

“When officers go out on scene and encounter a victim of any violent crime, they generate a call to our victim services advocates and one of my counselors goes out on the scene immediately to provide any immediate resources or needs for the victim,” Collins said. “Victims have many rights that they don’t know about, so we try to keep them informed within the process of the criminal justice system.”

With the support of her colleagues, Collins has implemented new initiatives to help the community.

Carnesha Collins with Victim Services Department team members and Arlington Police Officers
Carnesha Collins with Victim Services Department team members and Arlington Police Officers

“Our Victim Services team provides education in the community and compassion to those we serve, and this often has a lasting impression on the victim about the criminal justice system,” Deputy Chief of Arlington Police Department Os Flores said. “Embedding counselors with officers in a time of need often helps empower the victims to make decisions and access services available in the community.”

Collins’ ideas have been impactful for the Arlington community, as she has been able to roll out initiatives that provide victims with a variety resources. For example, she recently implemented a taxi voucher program to help those in need of transportation.

“The taxi vouchers provide another avenue of transportation options for victims,” Collins said. “The taxi voucher program is a significant impact when servicing victims in need, and it helps victims that are in need of transport to services or to get to a safe place.”

Collins says she is in a great spot in her career, as she is truly in a position that brings out her passion for helping people. She contributes her success to earning her Masters in Social Work degree from UTA.

“What makes me excited now is that I'm truly able to use the degree that I earned at the School of Social Work,” Collins said. “I knew what I was doing when I went for that degree, and I'm able to apply almost everything that I've ever learned about social work to encounters that I have had with individuals in the field and that's what truly fills me up and it gives me the passion and the drive to keep moving along.”

At every opportunity, Collins shares her passion with students who are considering the social work field and encourages them to take the leap.

“It is easy to speak about because a degree in social work truly is versatile,” Collins said. “You can go almost anywhere and apply social work concepts, because there's always going to be some type of social issue involved.”

News Topics: Alumni