EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University Police and Public Safety’s Community Support Division is excited to welcome Maria Valayil as the department’s new Police Social Worker.
Maria is originally from the metro Detroit area and attended MSU for both her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Clinical Social Work. Before coming to work for MSU DPPS, she worked for the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office for more than 20 years.
“MSU DPPS is heading in a direction I really agree with in terms of providing more community support and addressing mental health issues and in a new way, in a different way. I thought it was a great time to be a part of that,” said Valayil.
Maria’s passion for social work began in her early college days when she was a volunteer for the Council Against Domestic Assault, now known as End Violent Encounters (EVE). She says the profession offers her a way to give back to her community.
“I will still say to this day that the strongest people I ever met were the survivors that I worked with,” said Valayil. “It made me think, if I can be a part of supporting these powerfully strong people who are trying to work toward something better for themselves, I wanted to help them with that. The best way I could figure out to do that would be as a social worker.”
Maria’s job responsibilities include assisting with mental health emergencies on scene, providing services and resources to those in need, coordinating with community partners, and supervising the department’s Master of Social Work interns. She will also serve as a resource to officers.
“I’m looking forward to going to some trainings in officer wellness, so I can be a better support system. I’m committed to educating myself so I can do more of that,” said Valayil.
“We need to be able to have options for people when we respond to mental health calls and Maria can bring that. She can bring all the things that she has in her experience to better support people and to get them connected with resources in a more holistic way,” said Deputy Chief Andrea Munford, who leads the Community Support Division.
“I’m just proud of the university for trying to move forward on these kinds of initiatives because it’s not just lip service,” said Valayil. “They really want to put these changes into effect and have us work together as a team.”
Michigan State University Police and Public Safety’s Community Support Division works to provide trauma-informed, inclusive, and accessible services to MSU students, faculty, and staff. Community Support Division members also participate in community outreach and training programs to provide awareness and improve overall safety on campus.
You can learn more about the Community Support Division’s operations here.
As always, Michigan State University Police and Public Safety can be contacted anytime by calling 517-355-2221 or 9-1-1 for emergencies.
Dana Whyte, Spokesperson, MSU Police and Public Safety