Published August 31 2023
Emergency response offers enforcement and counseling as needed
After a successful trial run in 2021, the city on Friday, Sept. 1 will begin deploying a Community Crisis Assistance Team to provide specialized support to people in crisis.
Made up of specially trained police officers and mental health professionals from the Fire Department’s CARES (Community Advocates for Referral and Education Services) program, the CCAT will likely mean fewer arrests and hospitalizations in Bellevue for a frequent kind of emergency call.
As the number of behavioral health calls continue to rise around the country, the city recognized the need for a more comprehensive approach than traditional responses such as arrest or hospitalization. After exploring various response models in the CCAT pilot in 2021, Police and Fire adopted a co-responder model.
Unlike standard patrol units, the CCAT is given the flexibility to invest as much time as needed to listen and problem-solve with individuals in crisis. The team then can discern whether the person in crisis would benefit most from speaking to an officer or a mental health professional. The CCAT can provide connections to relevant resources.
After the 2021 pilot showed more people diverted from jails or hospitals and a drop in the number of times force was used when the CCAT approach was used, the City Council approved funding for CCAT in the 2023-24 budget.