Pierce County, Wash. - The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) awarded $4.8 million in grants for mental health response to 14 law enforcement agencies in the state.
The funds will help support law enforcement agencies to establish and expand mental health field response capability in 68 communities by utilizing mental health professionals. The partnership is intended to professionally, humanely and safely respond to encounters that involve people with mental health issues.
It’s part of an existing program approved and funded by the Washington Legislature along with additional funding provided by the Washington Health Care Authority.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) has a Co-Responders Unit that currently consists of five designated crisis responders. The additional $487,000 in grant funding will create several more positions to hire additional crisis responders.
The Co-Responders Unit is also available to most law enforcement agencies in Pierce County, which means law enforcement in cities such as Gig Harbor and Puyallup can request the co-responders to a call.
"We can call a mental health co-responder to come out, evaluate these people, try to get them better resources or just talk to them at the time and de-escalate them. Get them out of that crisis," said Sergeant Darren Moss of PCSCO. "We don’t want to rush in and hurt people. We don’t want to rush in and get ourselves hurt. We want to provide the best solutions possible, and so if we have the opportunity, let’s call in the experts."
According to the WASPC, 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