BEND, OR -- A partnership between Deschutes County Behavioral Health, 911, Bend Police and the Sheriff’s Office sends Community Crisis Response Teams to low and moderate risk mental health calls without law enforcement. And authorities say the new program is a success.
Sheila Miller, with Bend Police, says the first two months of the program have been busy, countywide. "In the first two months of operation, the CCRT has responded to 551 calls for service, and almost 90% of those were able to be resolved without law enforcement," Miller tells KBND News.
"These people are being dispatched on their own to respond to those crises. So, that takes some of those calls off law enforcement’s plate, and it also sometimes helps because having law enforcement can sometimes exacerbate a situation," says Miller. The CCRT helps connect people with the stabilization center or other mental health resources, "We have a lot of mental health calls for service. Unfortunately it’s an issue. And people know to call 911 when they’re in crisis; and that makes sense. But sometimes having law enforcement show up makes it worse. And so, these people are specially trained, they know what they’re doing. Our cops have all been trained in crisis intervention, but they’re still in big uniforms with guns."
But, she says, police and sheriff’s deputies will respond when necessary, "So, 911 will continue to dispatch law enforcement and fire when there’s a high risk call - so, if somebody has a weapon or is threatening themselves or others with violence."
The CCRT is an expansion of the county’s mobile crisis team, which has provided services with and without law enforcement for more than 20 years.