LACEY, wash., July 12, 2021 Fourteen Washington law enforcement agencies will receive grants to expand and / or implement mental health responsiveness skills for 68 communities across the state. The funds were awarded by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) as part of an existing program approved and funded by the Washington Legislature, along with additional funds provided by the Washington Health Care Authority.
The funds will help local law enforcement agencies build and expand mental health response skills by using mental health professionals to respond professionally, humanely and safely to encounters involving people with mental health problems.
The scholarships are awarded to the following agencies and their partners that have submitted funding applications:
- 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 Square 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 the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Police and the US Department of Veteran Affairs Police
- Wenatchee Police Department with East Wenatchee Police, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
Mental health remains the main public safety issue in Washington. People experiencing mental crises do not necessarily commit crimes, but communities continue to rely on law enforcement to respond to these crises. These grant funds will help local law enforcement agencies focus on delivering help where help is needed. Mental health professionals will work alongside law enforcement in this area. This improves the interaction between the public and law enforcement agencies, reducing the possibility of the use of force and improving overall public safety. Instead of putting someone in jail, they can be connected to services or redirected to a more appropriate facility.
The grant recipients must include at least one mental health professional who will provide services. Mental health professionals can assist on-site or on-call police officers, provide best practice training, or provide other services. Grant recipients are encouraged to coordinate with local public safety focal points in order to maximize the objectives of the program.
Source: Washington Association of Sheriff & Police Chiefs press release
Washington Association of Sheriff & Police Chiefs was founded in 1963 and represents law enforcement executives and top management personnel nationwide. 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.