Lourdes Mobile Outreach Team launches at police departments
TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Law enforcement agencies and Lourdes Health are teaming up to help those in crisis situations.
The Mobile Outreach Team consists of mental health professionals and counselors trained to assess mental health situations or substance use disorders. They’ll ride along with law enforcement agencies to a scene in order to immediately respond to those in crisis.
“Minutes do count,” said Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg. “And the last thing we want is an individual in crisis to actually make that next step and hurt their self or somebody else when we can be there to help resolve this situation.”
Team members will be placed at Kennewick, Pasco and Richland Police Departments.
According to Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger, a group called “Hot Spotters” was formed in 2016. It essentially did the same thing as the Mobile Outreach Team is doing now.
Lourdes Health soon applied for the True Blood Phase III grant. It was approved and they received more than $1 million.
Kennewick and Pasco got mental health professionals in October 2018. Richland Police received theirs two weeks ago. While they will be housed at the departments, they will serve other departments across Benton and Franklin Counties.
They’ve already hit the road to help the community. But it’s not just about those in crisis, but families as well. The professionals are trained to de-escalate situations and provide families with any and all resources that they need.
Once at the scene, they will evaluate the situation.
“After the initial evaluation, we are able to refer to peer counselors who are able to provide support services until they are able to get enrolled into long-term services in an effort to provide a warm handoff between providers,” said Deanna Petrilli, a Mobile Outreach Professional.
The program is also designed to potentially reduce recidivism rates for those going in and out of the criminal justice system.
In a field where seconds matter, health professionals will be able to assess a situation in seconds rather than hours. Prior, officers had to call crisis professionals and explain situations. Now, they will be front and center.
Additionally, clinicians and peer specialists will help follow-up with those who requested resources. They will also speak to those willing to share their stories of a crisis in order to improve the team and program.
The grant expires in December, but Lourdes and the law enforcement agencies hope to continue the program, even if another grant approval isn’t on the table.