Mental health | SPD adopts new crisis intervention policy, Joel’s law delayed

As a neighborhood in the central city with resources like housing and treatment facilities and proximity to medical facilities, Capitol Hill’s residents, businesses and first responders are familiar with mental illness and it’s part in the day-to-day of being part of the neighborhood. Here are some updates regarding the way we deal with mental health issues in the city.

  • SPD crisis intervention policy: As part of its agreement to rein in use of force around the department, SPD rolled out its new crisis intervention policy this week to help officers better respond to crisis situations with people who are mentally ill or under the influence of drugs and alcohol. KUOW reports:

    Seattle Police’s new policy calls for a team of officers to be specially trained to take the lead at the scene where someone is having a “behavioral crisis.” The training includes a 40-hour course, exam and additional training each year.

    The department will also be required to collect data about every encounter with someone in this type of crisis.

  • Joel’s Law delay: A compromise to smooth the passage of legislation that will make it easier to have family members committed for mental health treatment will delay implementation of the new Washington law until 2017:

    Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam) proposed the amendment to delay the law until July 2017.

    Hargrove said Washington’s involuntary commitment system already is set for a major change that is expected to increase the number of people ordered into mental health treatment.

    HB 5480, which lawmakers approved in 2013, changes the criteria for involuntary commitment from “dangerous to self or others” to “gravely disabled.” That change in criteria starts this July.

    Hargrove said his amendment “will give us some time for our whole system to catch up before this next provision comes into play.”

    CHS reported on Joel Reuter’s family pushing for changes in state mental illness laws after the Capitol Hill man was shot by police in a July 2013 standoff.

  • Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 5.11.01 PMMental Health Court report: Seattle Municipal Court has released the results of a study evaluating the effectiveness of its Mental Health Court program.

    “This program has been a success on many levels,” said Presiding Judge C. Kimi Kondo, currently assigned to the Mental Health Court.  “Chronically mentally ill offenders are offered treatment and assistance with housing. Over the past 14 years, the Court has worked as a team with treatment and housing providers, social workers, defense attorneys, prosecuting attorneys and our dedicated probation staff.  Our goal is to reduce criminal activity related to a diagnosed mental illness.”

    According to the report, 62% of Seattle Mental Health Court participants successfully completed program requirements. “Most importantly, these defendants experienced a significant decline in the number of criminal charges filed for two years after exiting the program, when compared to the two years prior to entry,” the report states. You can read more about the court and the study here (PDF).

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