The Marysville Police Department, in partnership with the Arlington and Lake Stevens Police Departments, is adding new specialized resources to its policing toolkit. Two dedicated mental health specialists will now be assigned to join officers in responding to incidents involving persons experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
The Marysville City Council approved this pilot program at its Feb. 8 Council meeting. Marysville’s portion of the pilot program ending June 30 is entirely funded by a $95,000 grant from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC). The cities of Arlington and Lake Stevens are partners in the program and will share with Marysville the services of the two mental health specialists employed by Compass Mental Health.
This new program builds upon Marysville’s successful embedded social worker program that since 2018 has paired a city police officer with a social worker in outreach to people with addiction and/or mental health issues to offer them treatment and other social services. Since that program started, the Marysville team helped 30 people, many of them homeless, obtain mental health evaluations.
“Our police officers have been responding more often to calls involving mental health issues outside their areas of expertise,” Mayor Jon Nehring said. “I’m excited to add mental health experts to the Marysville public safety team. This investment is a good one for our officers and for the public we serve.”
Chief Scairpon called out the critical nature of this work: “Improving outcomes for those who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis is among some of our community’s most important priorities,” he said. “We know from other evidence-based programs that the co-responder model of pairing a dedicated crisis responder with a police officer creates a winning combination that creates safety and helps deliver these positive outcomes.”
Chief Scairpon told the City Council about a recent incident where a responding officer was injured by a person experiencing mental health issues. He said that if a mental health specialist had been there, that outcome might have been avoided.
The Police Department will monitor the pilot program’s achievements and, if successful, plan for adjustments as needed and funding its continuation after the pilot ends this summer.