4 Replies to “New Seattle program will pair police, mental health specialists | king5.com”

  1. In this article it is stated that Seattle Police Departments will begin pairing officers with mental health professionals. The mental health professionals are described as having experience in the field and related college degrees in the field of mental health. These professionals get five weeks of training constructed by law enforcement officials. Although they are only sent out with officers to calls considered “non-violent, non-emergent, and non-medical”. Otherwise these calls are referred to as “person down” or welfare checks. Therefore my question is, should this be implemented in other police departments? My personal answer would be to keep them in metropolitan areas and see the effects of pairing officers and mental health professionals, and if they show good results to push for them in most police departments.

    1. Hi Thomas, I agree with your answer. I feel as though it would be best to see the lasting effect of a program like this before expanding it across all police departments. Although this program seems like an idea solution to a common problem identified by many, it would be better to err on the side of caution. By slowly implementing this program it will allow for flaws and issues to be worked out before implementation everywhere. Working out possible problems for implementation could prevent serious situations from occurring later on.

  2. This article discusses how Seattle is implementing a CARE team to pair mental health specialists with officers. The CARE team will likely respond to low-risk calls for mental health. Examples of these calls might be a welfare check or something that wouldn’t put the mental health workers at risk of violence. This would be one way of keeping police officers from having to respond to certain mental health calls, as well as it might also keep the person being checked on calmer than if they were to see an officer in uniform. Is this CARE program a good way to start reallocating funds from police departments to mental health issues, as well as to take something off of officer’s plates? We cannot expect officers to do everything, yet that is what is expected of them. People say defund the police, but this is one way we could reallocate funds while benefiting the police as well. The benefit for the officers would be having one less type of call to respond to. This seems similar to the ACORN program that is paired with the Raliegh, NC police department.

    1. Hi Laci! While I definitely agree with your sentiment that this is an important step towards reallocating funds, I also think it’s important to understand some potential concerns regarding this program. One concern is how dispatchers will effectively differentiate high-risk mental health calls from low-risk ones. Accurate triaging is crucial to ensure the right response, as mental health crises can vary greatly in intensity. Misidentifying a high-risk situation as low-risk could have serious consequences. Moreover, a system that heavily relies on dispatchers’ judgment may be prone to errors, requiring robust training and protocols. Additionally, the CARE program raises questions about its overall effectiveness. Many of the most dangerous mental health situations do require the expertise of mental health professionals, as highlighted by the need to prevent fatal shootings. Therefore, the CARE program’s success may be limited in scenarios where the presence of officers, regardless of uniform, is not the primary concern. While, again, reallocating funds from police departments to mental health services is a worthwhile goal, I believe that it’s essential to ensure that the CARE program is part of a comprehensive approach. It should be coupled with investments in specialized mental health crisis response teams and community-based mental health services. An approach like that may better address the diverse needs of individuals in crisis, improve public safety, and support law enforcement by allowing them to focus on their core duties. The success of these initiatives may depend on careful planning, collaboration with mental health professionals, and ongoing evaluation.

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