Monday, September 7, 2015

North Precinct police respond to 700 crisis calls in 90-day period

A recent Seattle Times article, SPD report: Minimal force used in contacts with mentally ill, highlights the large number of crisis calls police respond to. During the 90-day period, the North Precinct reported responding to 699 crisis calls out of a city total of 2,464. The North Precinct is second only to the West Precinct (reporting 719 crisis calls), which includes downtown, when it comes to responding to crisis calls.

The article echoes a letter the NPAC Social Services Committee sent to King County Councilmember Dembowski this summer requesting additional funding for the Mobile Crisis Team. Following is an excerpt: 

This year, members of the Seattle Police North Precinct Advisory Council (NPAC) formed committees to focus on public safety issues of particular concern to north Seattle residents. We are members of the Social Services Committee and one of our goals is to increase services in north Seattle to address social and health-related problems that police are often called to address. We are particularly interested in increasing mental health services to help police when they receive calls from community members to address crisis issues like suicidality and drug abuse.

We are writing to you today to thank you for your continued support of the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) program and to urge you to increase funding in the next budget for the Crisis Solution’s Center’s Mobile Crisis Team. The expansion of the Mobile Crisis Team’s services would allow police to link more people with needed support.

In a 90-day period, more than 700 north Seattle calls to 911 are deemed crisis calls. Of those calls, more than a quarter are related to suicide. In most cases, people facing these types of crises can be served better by the Mobile Crisis Team instead of police.

Right now, when police call the Mobile Crisis Team, it can take them anywhere from about 30 minutes to four hours to respond to the crisis.  The longer the response time, the more missed opportunities to serve our neighbors in need. To gain more service with faster response times, police need to call the Mobile Crisis Team more often so that their statistics reflect the need. However, if response times are up to four hours, police are less likely to call. This, in turn, means that call data kept by the Mobile Crisis Team may not reflect the true need in the north end. Increased availability of the Mobile Crisis Team would increase use of the program by police and would better serve people in crisis.