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County & City Leaders Announce Innovative Facility Designed to Divert People with Mental Illness and Drug Dependency into Treatment, Reduce Jail and Hospital Emergency Room Use

Summary

Crisis Solutions Center (CSC) Opens in Seattle To Serve all of King County

Story

A unique coalition of government officials, law enforcement agencies, and social service providers announce the opening of an innovative new facility designed to divert people with a mental illness or drug dependency crisis from our local jails and hospital emergency rooms and into King County’s Crisis Solutions Center (CSC).

The Crisis Solutions Center is a unique 16 bed facility located in the Jackson Place neighborhood of Seattle. The Center, combined with a longer term respite facility and mobile crisis team, is one of 37 strategies funded by the King County Mental Illness and Drug Dependency Sales Tax, a fund created by the King County Council to support new or expanded mental health and chemical dependency programs throughout King County .

The CSC is designed to provide immediate mental health and chemical dependency services to individuals who are in crisis. Individuals can be diverted to the CSC by either police officers in the field, hospital ER staff or first responders in order to avoid involvement in more costly systems such as jails and hospitals. The CSC includes a crisis diversion program where an individual can stay for up to three days (16 beds), and an adjoining program where individuals who need a longer period of stabilization and linkage to ongoing services can stay for up to two weeks (up to 30 beds).

For those individuals referred to the CSC by law enforcement, the person can avoid entanglement in the criminal justice system for a low level offense if they work with CSC staff to achieve positive outcomes. If they choose not to, they will face prosecution. Police officers may also refer individuals whom them encounter in mental health or chemical dependency crisis, but have not committed a low level criminal offense.

The facility will be operated by trained experts in mental health and chemical dependency treatment employed by DESC (formerly Downtown Emergency Service Center). In announcing the opening, DESC Director Bill Hobson was joined by King County Mental Health, Chemical Abuse and Dependency Services Division Director Amnon Shoenfeld, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, King County Sheriff Steve Strachan, Seattle Police Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer, King County Council Chair Larry Gossett, Councilmembers Kathy Lambert & Bob Ferguson, Chief Nursing Officer Darcy Jaffe from Harborview Medical Center, Former Sheriff and MIDD Co-Chair Sue Rahr, Superior Court Judge and Former MIDD Co-Chair Barbara Linde. 

County, City and Community Leaders made the following observations about the opening of the Crisis Solutions Center:

“Until today we have accepted that the jail and the street are the default placements for many people suffering from chronic mental illness even though we know neither option is healthy for the afflicted person or the community”, said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. “This innovative program offers new hope for stability and recovery for people who have been spinning in the revolving door of untreated mental illness, homelessness and arrest.”

“The opening of this treatment facility represents the successful achievement of matching services to the needs of those involved in our criminal justice system, to break the cycle of crime,” said King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “It is far more respectful and humane to provide medical treatment to those who are ill, with untreated mental illness or substance abuse, than to lock them up in jail. Currently, the King County jail unfortunately is the second-largest mental institution in the state, by default. This center provides an important step toward changing that. King County has been a leader in implementing alternatives to incarceration, and this concept provides another road to recovery instead of recidivism.”

King County Sheriff Steve Strachan noted that, “In law enforcement, we are seeing more and more incidents and calls involving issues related to unmanaged mental illness. The Crisis Solutions Center is exactly what government should be doing-- working together to provide our deputies with better tools than simply arrest, emergency rooms, and turning people back out onto the street.”

Seattle Deputy Police Chief and DESC Board member Clark Kimerer observed that, “Police officers want nothing more than to help those in crisis. Before the CSC, few options were available to address the low-level offender whose actions are based more on behavioral health than criminal intent. Jail is not an effective option and our hospitals are overextended. The CSC is a welcome program to address a complex public safety and societal challenge, with efficacy and humanity.”

Councilmember Lambert joined King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and other public safety and human services officials to celebrate the opening of the Crisis Solutions Center.

Councilmember Lambert joined King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and other public safety and human services officials to celebrate the opening of the Crisis Solutions Center.

Contact the Council
Main phone:
206-477-1000
TTY/TDD:
206-296-1024
Fax:
206-296-0198