LACEY, Wash., July 12, 2021 – Fourteen Washington law enforcement agencies will receive grants to expand and/or implement mental health field response capabilities for 68 communities across the state. The funds were awarded by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) as a part of an existing program approved and funded by the Washington Legislature along with additional funding provided by the Washington Health Care Authority.
The funds will help local law enforcement agencies establish and expand mental health field response capabilities, by utilizing mental health professionals to professionally, humanely, and safely respond to encounters that involve people with mental health issues.
The grants will be distributed to the following agencies and their partners who submitted proposals for funding:
- Des Moines Police Department with Algona Police, Auburn Police, Black Diamond Police, Federal Way Police, Kent Police, Pacific Police, Renton Police, and Tukwila Police
- Hoquiam Police Department with Aberdeen Police and Cosmopolis Police
- Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office with Port Townsend Police
- Kirkland Police Department with Bothell Police, Kenmore Police, Lake Forest Park Police and Shoreline Police
- Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office with Port Orchard Police
- Longview Police Department with Castle Rock Police, Kalama Police, Kelso Police, Woodland Police, and the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office
- Marysville Police Department with Arlington Police, Lake Stevens Police and the Tulalip Tribal Police
- Pierce County Sheriff’s Office with Bonney Lake Police, Buckley Police, DuPont Police, Eatonville Police, Edgewood Police, Fife Police, Fircrest Police, Gig Harbor Police, Milton Police, Orting Police, Pierce Transit Police, Puyallup Police, Puyallup Tribal Police, Roy Police, Ruston Police, Steilacoom Police, Sumner Police, and University Place Police
- Port Angeles Police Department with Sequim Police and the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office
- Poulsbo Police Department with Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal Police
- Skagit County Sheriff’s Office with Burlington Police and Sedro Woolley Police
- Spokane County Sheriff’s Office with Spokane Police and Spokane Valley Police
- Vancouver Police Department with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Police and US Department of Veteran Affairs Police
- Wenatchee Police Department with East Wenatchee Police, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
Mental health remains the number one public safety issue facing Washington. People experiencing mental health crises are not necessarily committing crimes, but communities continue to rely on law enforcement to respond to those crises. These grant funds will help local law enforcement agencies focus on facilitating help where help is needed. Mental health professionals will be working in the field alongside law enforcement. This improves the interactions between the public and law enforcement, thereby reducing the possibility of using force, and improves public safety overall. Instead of booking someone into jail, they may be connected with services or diverted to a more appropriate facility.
Grant recipients must include at least one mental health professional who will perform services. Mental health professionals may assist patrol officers in the field or in an on-call capacity, provide training on best practices, or provide other services. Grant recipients are encouraged to coordinate with local public safety answering points to maximize the goals of the program.
Source: Washington Association of Sheriff & Police Chiefs press release
Washington Association of Sheriff & Police Chiefs was founded in 1963 and represents executive and top management personnel from law enforcement agencies statewide. With more than 900 members it includes the 39 elected county sheriffs, and 240 police chiefs, as well as the Washington State Patrol, the Washington Department of Corrections, and representatives of several federal agencies.