In the photo attached, Port Angeles Police Officer Jackson VanDusen, and Outreach Coordinator and Masters in Social Work (MSW), Amy Miller, talk to a community member at the tree park. This partnership with the Olympic Peninsula Community Clinic (OPCC) is one of many community policing efforts by the Police Department to work as part of the community, understand the evolving issues most important to the community, and find solutions by addressing the root causes of the problems, rather than only responding to the symptoms of the problem. Nearly all of law enforcement’s efforts continue to be focused on response to the worst crimes after they have been committed. Officers work at the top of the to-do list, then work down the list until all limited resources are committed. Every day in Port Angeles, the demand for police services exceeds (in some fashion) the capacity of the Police Department.
An earlier and still ongoing Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) grant has allowed Amy and Officers like Jackson to begin work at the other end of the “to-do list” to solve problems before serious crimes are committed. Much of the work done by Jackson and Amy involves connecting the people needing the most help with services that are available. In many cases, the people are not aware that help is available, or they are reluctant to accept help due to a variety of complications. We have named this program REdisCOVERY 1.0, and it works in partnership with the Port Angeles Fire Dept. Community Paramedic program.
This new WASPC grant (below) we have named REdisCOVERY 2.0. It will add a needed case management and continued support component to continue guiding people through often difficult to navigate bureaucracies of service agencies. It will be able to maintain a long-term focus on individuals with the goal of sustainable outcomes.
The Port Angeles Police Department was recently awarded a $ 367,000 WASPC grant to support local arrest and jail alternative programs. The funds were awarded by WASPC in consultation with the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) National Support Bureau (NSB), as a part of grant program established by the Washington State Legislature.
The funds will support local initiatives to properly identify criminal justice system-involved persons with substance use disorders and other behavioral health needs and engage those persons with therapeutic interventions and other services prior to or at the time of booking, or while in custody. The program focuses of both REdisCOVERY 1.0 and REdisCOVERY 2.0 is addressing behavior that absent intervention or assistance often leads to criminal activity and/or high utilization of emergency services.
The anticipated outcomes of the programs include:
· reduce the need for arrests, the need for time spent in custody, and/or criminal recidivism for clients served by the program,
· increase access to and utilization of non-emergency community behavioral health services,
· reduce utilization of emergency services,
· increase resilience, stability, and well-being for clients served; and
· reduce costs for the justice system compared to processing cases as usual through the justice system.
Every day, communities throughout the state continue to be impacted by mental health and substance use. Law enforcement is often called to be the first to respond to the emergency needs of those impacted by these issues. These individuals may be better served by adding to the existing response specific programs that support accountability while taking a more person and needs-centered approach. This can be accomplished using innovative justice-based responses and collaboration with community-based services.
The LEAD National Support Bureau responds to the national demand for strategic guidance and technical support to local jurisdictions developing Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)® programs. The LEAD National Support Bureau is one of several initiatives within the Public Defender Association (PDA), a non-profit corporation which advocates for justice system reform and develops alternatives that shift from a punishment paradigm to a system that supports individual and community health.
WASPC was founded in 1963 and represents executive and top management personnel from law enforcement agencies statewide. With more than 900 members it includes the 39 elected county sheriffs, and 240 police chiefs, as well as the Washington State Patrol, the Washington Department of Corrections, and representatives of several federal agencies.