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Dunn partners with King County Sheriff’s Office on pilot program on mental health and wellness program for deputies

Summary

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn on Thursday introduced legislation supporting a pilot Wellness and Resiliency program at the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Story

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn on Thursday introduced legislation supporting a pilot Wellness and Resiliency program at the King County Sheriff’s Office.

In order to help officers who face mental health issues, the King County Sheriff’s Office has recently implemented a 12-month, temporary Wellness and Resiliency Deputy Coordinator position. This deputy will be responsible for developing a new mental health and wellness program for KCSO officers. Dunn’s legislation would require the Sheriff to report back on the program after one year.

“We know that law enforcement can be a hard and stressful profession, and that stress comes with a lot of negative side effects,” Dunn said. “Providing mental health resources to our KCSO officers would be a wise and compassionate investment in their wellbeing while also benefiting to our community as a whole.”

Following funding cuts to the King County Sheriff’s Office in the last biennial budget, Dunn will seek the funding needed to establish this program in the upcoming COVID-19 emergency budget.

“I created the position of Wellness and Resiliency Deputy (WARD) Coordinator to develop and implement department wellness and resiliency programs that will provide emotional and mental health resources for all of our employees,” Sheriff Mitzi G. Johanknecht said. “Investing in officer wellness, both their physical and emotional well-being, will help build trust and confidence with the communities we serve. I thank Councilmember Dunn for recognizing the important relationship between community trust and officer wellness.”

Studies have repeatedly found that law enforcement officers often experience anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression due to the stress and trauma of their work. Without mental health support, this can lead to use and abuse of substances for relief.

The legislation will be referred to the Law and Justice Committee next week.

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