Frontier Behavioral Health is expanding its partnership with Spokane area law enforcement agencies to provide mental health expertise on police patrols. That partnership is still relatively new, but it’s been widely praised for diverting people away from the jail and into services they need.
Frontier provides four mental health professionals for ride alongs with Spokane Police and one to help Spokane Fire, as part of a grant-funded program. A new grant from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs will allow Frontier to expand that number. Jan Tokumoto is Frontier’s chief operating officer.
“That contract will allow us to add to two more co-deployed teams to the Spokane Police Department and two more to the Spokane sheriff’s office," Tokumoto said. "We will lose a current co-deployed team with the sheriff’s office, but now we have these two to replace the one that we’re losing.”
And, she says, the grant pays for a sergeant from one of the agencies to oversee the teams in the field.
She says the early returns from pairing cops and the mental health professionals show promising returns. More people are finding help they need, rather than automatically getting a ride to jail.
Tokumoto says three of the four new counselors have been hired, with the fourth expected soon. Their training with the law enforcement agencies is expected to begin later this month and take four-to-six weeks. The new teams are scheduled to be on the streets by the first of the year.