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Dembowski Secures Funding for Innovative Law Enforcement De-escalation Program

Summary

Adopted last week, King County’s 2019-20 biennial budget includes significant investment in North King County’s Response, Awareness, De-escalation and Referral (RADAR) program, which helps build a bridge between law enforcement and mental health services. Councilmember Rod Dembowski worked to secure $780,000 to support this program and the collaboration between the cities of Shoreline, Bothell, Lake Forest Park, Kirkland, and Kenmore.

Story

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From left: Bothell Police Sgt. John Rogers, Lake Forest Park City Manager Phillip Hill, Bothell Police Chief Carol Cummings, Lake Forest Park Police Chief Steve Sutton, Shoreline Police Chief Shawn Ledford, Shoreline Mayor Will Hall, King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski, Bothell Master Police Officer Brett Bernard, Bothell City Manager Jennifer Phillips, Kirkland Police Chief Cherie Harris, Kenmore City Manager Rob Karlinsky, Shoreline City Manager Debbie Tarry, and Shoreline Superintendent Rebecca Miner.

Adopted last week, King County’s 2019-20 biennial budget includes significant investment in North King County’s Response, Awareness, De-escalation and Referral (RADAR) program, which helps build a bridge between law enforcement and mental health services. Councilmember Rod Dembowski worked to secure $780,000 to support this program and the collaboration between the cities of Shoreline, Bothell, Lake Forest Park, Kirkland, and Kenmore.

RADAR partners police officers with mental health professionals to help people in need who are experiencing a mental health crisis, suffering from substance abuse, or struggling with homelessness, and connect them to the proper services. This pairing allows the mental health professional to identify a need for social services and gives the officer an alternative to sending a person to the emergency room or jail, improving outcomes for many individuals and reducing the burden on our healthcare and criminal justice systems.

“This funding will certainly have a far reaching positive impact,” said Chief Carol Cummings of the Bothell Police Department. “Police are often the first responders when a community member suffers a mental health crisis. The expertise of a mental health worker on their team enables them to respond more effectively to get the person into appropriate services while maintaining the safety of all involved.”

Mental health professionals can quickly assess the need, and officers schedule follow-up and dedicate time for outreach. The program also provides officers with relevant information on high risk individuals suffering from mental illness prior to contact, to help police better attempt de-escalation and avoid misunderstandings. Mental health professionals can also coordinate with schools to connect students and families to services, and integrate kids back into school, in cases where they have been affected by a person in crisis. In its first year in Shoreline, RADAR program outreach has reduced repeat calls for service, and of the 147 contacts made, 83% of people accepted resources or assistance.

“The Shoreline Police Department has had success with RADAR in handling calls for service, where no force was used to de-escalate the situation, connect people to services and to gain trust with an individual and family members,” said Chief Shawn V. Ledford of the Shoreline Police Department. “Having access to a mental health professional and expanding this program is a partnership that’s working and would not have happened without the support of Councilmember Rod Dembowski.”

For more information on RADAR, please contact Bothell Police Chief Carol Cummings, at (425) 487-5555 or Shoreline Police Chief Shawn Ledford, at (206) 801-2711.

 


Contact the Council
Main phone:
206-477-1000
TTY/TDD:
206-296-1024
Email:
council@kingcounty.gov