Page 3 of 3 Previous

Continued: St. Cloud police reach out to kids scarred by trauma

  • Article by: CURT BROWN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 6, 2014 - 7:16 AM

The chief gave McConkey complete access to arrest reports and daily logs — things Greensboro’s advocate doesn’t immediately see. Anderson’s “graciousness” has been the key to the program’s early success, according to Lori Schmidt, director of the Central Minnesota Mental Health Center that employs McConkey through a grant from the Bremer Foundation and another family fund that wished to remain anonymous.

Anderson said the program is part of a “crime mitigation strategy” that should save money in the long run by “building better citizens who contribute positively as opposed to getting on that criminal justice merry-go-round and not being able to get off.”

St. Cloud cops nod to that notion, welcoming McConkey with open arms.

“For me, it’s a godsend,” said investigator David Missell, a 29-year department veteran. “Just look at my desk. I have lots of cases. I can get to the scene and make sure things are safe, and instead of worrying about finding resources for the family, I can say, ‘Talk to this man’ and head to my next case.”

A school resource officer suggested McConkey check in with the Eberles. She knew the kids from school and could see issues bubbling up.

“There is only so much we can do with the time we’re given, so it’s perfect to have someone like Paige who can help them find the help they need,” said officer Tiffany Thompson, who is assigned to Apollo High School, enrollment 1,300.

“Everybody has a different version of trauma,” she said. “It’s not always murder or suicide. I’ve referred cases where kids have had lifelong emotional neglect or abuse, constant yelling and nagging and made not to feel worth anything.”

With McConkey down the hall, she now has a place to turn. She just hopes the job doesn’t vanish when the grant money dries up. The first year is funded but the second year is pending.

“Lots of the things that start up always sound good on paper and in theory,” Thompson said. “I just hope it can be sustained.”

McConkey and the team recently traveled to Greensboro to compare notes.

“We told them we thought we were crawling,” Anderson said. “They said we’re not crawling, we’re jogging.”

Chris Bray, a former corrections commissioner, works with Gewirtz at the U. They will assess the results of the St. Cloud program.

“In the very short time it’s been operating,” Bray said, “I think the thing is really taking off.”


Curt Brown • 612-673-4767


  • related content

  • Paige McConkey, an advocate with the St. Cloud Police, visits traumatized kids at home to help them feel more at ease.

  • Paige McConkey, a trauma informed advocate for Central MN Health, who works through the St. Cloud police department, drives to the family of a St. Cloud man who was killed in an automobile accident involving an intoxicated family friend who was driving. By getting services for young trauma victims early on, McConkey and many experts in the area believe they can lessen the damage caused by trauma. “This program is going to keep kids out of the back of your cars,” McConkey says he tells police officers.] (DAVID JOLES/STARTRIBUNE) djoles@startribune When so often mental health issues go unaddressed until it’s...

  • Paige McConkey, a trauma-trained advocate who works through the St. Cloud Police, seized on a lighthearted moment as he interviewed Meadow Eberle, 11, left, and sister Summer, 7, last week. The girls’ father died in 2013 while riding with a drunken driver.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters






question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings draft selections

Weekly Question