Beaverton Police to join county's mental health response team
Beaverton will be assigning at least one police officer to a countywide mental health response team.
Over the past several years, the Beaverton Police Department has seen a steady increase in demand for the services provided by Washington County's mental health response team, according to the city.
Beaverton city officials say that the demand for these services could be better met if the department assigned one or more full-time Beaverton police officers to the response team, which would be accomplished by the newly signed agreement.
"Participation in this co-responder model is anticipated to benefit our community, and those we serve, providing stronger linkages between the justice system and community support," said Deputy Chief Jeffrey Williams. "Funding for this program will be included in next year's budget requests, which we'll see in the next month or so."
On Tuesday, March 20, the Beaverton City Council authorized the mayor to commit Beaverton police to the multi-agency response team.
The mental health response team is currently comprised of services provided by the Washington County Sheriff's Office, which then partners with the Washington County Department of Health and Human Services to provide a countywide response team.
County officials say that the team is a valuable resource for responding to individuals in mental health crisis and safely attempting to help people without hospitalization or lodging in jail.
"It's a collaborative approach where we use the expertise of mental health clinicians, all master-level clinicians who have additional training in crisis response," explained Kristin Burke with the Washington County Mental Health Department. "We place them in a patrol car, so they can provide a collaborative response to individuals in our community who are in a mental health crisis."
She added, "It's not just a single intervention. Usually what would happen is that after a crisis intervention has occurred, there'll be a follow-up."
Augmenting the mental health response team, Washington County has a 24/7 crisis line and the Hawthorn Walk-in Center, which is an urgent care center in Hillsboro for people experiencing urgent mental health and addiction needs.
The response team has been serving the county for about 10 years, with two teams working every day of the week covering various shifts, said Washington County Undersheriff John Koch.
He added that the county has even seen a log of high level of calls for mental health services throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
"As we continue to increase that capacity with additional partners, such as Beaverton police, we know we'll see more of those calls provided throughout the different regions of the county," Koch said.
The team is a shared crisis response program partnering with Lifeworks NW clinicians.
Burke says Lifeworks uses the county's medical record system, so all the crisis contracts are documented in the system, which is then available for county staff to follow-up with people in the future.
As for funding, Beaverton is expected to contribute to Washington County Health and Human Services' mental health division to assist the county in obtaining an additional mental health clinician for MHRT through Lifeworks, according to the city. That mental health clinician would be paired with the city police officer assigned to the response team.
Funding will be expected after the city approves another intergovernmental agreement with Washington County Health & Human Services. That agreement is expected to go before the Beaverton City Council in July.
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