sheriffThe Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the Wenatchee Police Department, East Wenatchee Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and the Chelan County Regional Justice Center, was awarded $175,503.74 from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to fund two full-time embedded mental health professionals/case managers. These positions will work directly under the established Behavioral Health Unit Program (BHU) at Chelan County. Currently, the Behavioral Health Unit is comprised of a Licensed Mental Health Counselor/Mental Health Professional and an Outreach Case Manager who are centralized to work in opposing areas to increase service coverage and embedded with law enforcement. The additional positions would expand evening and weekend coverage to all said agencies.

The Chelan County Behavioral Health Unit is an embedded co-response team, that gives law enforcement access to mental health professionals. The goals and objectives of the Behavioral Health Unit are to respond to calls for individuals in a behavioral health crisis or at risk for crisis, and refer them to appropriate social services/treatment; Prioritize cases involving individuals who are a danger to the community or self, pose a threat to officer safety, are high utilizers of emergency services, and or have escalated.

The Behavioral Health Unit facilitates access to resources and treatment providers, while also improving communication between law enforcement and service providers. The BHU will assist officers with information on the referred person(s) prior medical and behavioral health history, mental health and substance use presentation, and information about community resources.

Along with Master’s and Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology or Social Work, the Behavioral Health Unit staff members are also trained in crisis management, triage, de-escalation, vehicle safety protocols, situational awareness, mental health first aid, motivational interviewing, and suicide risk assessment, management and treatment. The BHU staff attends in-service training on law enforcement expectations, policies, and procedures. The BHU staff is also trained to treat individuals with Narcan, Basic CPR, and Combat First Aid.

Sheriff Burnett would like to specifically acknowledge Ana Johnson, the Chelan County Mental Health Program Coordinator, and Chief of Patrol Adam Musgrove for their work on this project, which made it possible to receive the grant.