The City of Wenatchee has signed a grant agreement with the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to continue to fund a Mental Health Field Response Team.
Wenatchee Police Captain Edgar Reinfeld stated the grant money means more coverage and less time officers have to spend on mental health situations. Normally an officer must wait for a designated crisis responder, or DCR, to evaluate someone’s mental health before the officer can move on to the next call. October presented a good example of the extra help a mental health field response team can bring.
Said Reinfeld, “The 176 hours of extra coverage in October led to a number of contacts that occurred outside the normal hours before (the grant). Before, when outside hour contacts occurred, we’d call, we’d wait for a DCR to come out from wherever they lived to come to the scene, to get their things, so it could be an hour, hour and a half. The average response time in October was 7.8 minutes during covered hours.”
DCRs are also important for hospitals as people in crisis potentially take up emergency beds while waiting for evaluation. In other cases, DCRs help by reducing the call load to emergency services.
“Before we did field response here in town we would make 15 or 20 contacts with somebody in a month , sometimes 5 to 10 contacts a day. We were contacting the same person with a mental health crisis that didn’t reach involuntary treatment act criteria so we couldn’t take them to the hospital to get them examined/evaluated, maybe get them some help.” explained Reinfeld, “(Now) field response comes there, talks to them. They have access to those services, they get them enrolled in services, they get case management, and the call load drops to zero for that individual.”
Captain Reinfeld also credited the newly refurbished Parkside mental health treatment facility in Wenatchee for improving mental health response in North Central Washington.