Spokane Regional Behavioral Health Unit sees continued success in helping those in crisis

Copyright 4 News Now

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane Regional Behavioral Health Unit saw great progress during its second year.

The BHU is made up of mental health professionals who work with law enforcement in an effort to keep communities safe.

Their goal is to help people going through crises in the best way possible, diverting them from going to jail or the emergency room.

Individuals that the BHU helps are considered “crisis contacts.” They are usually people experiencing increased emotion and decreased reasoning.

In 2021, the BHU saw a nine percent increase in newly made contacts. The unit contacted 4,090 people, and 79 percent of them had an outcome other than going to jail or the hospital.

They saw a 27 percent decrease in crisis contact arrests last year, and a 10 percent decrease in those who needed to be diverted from arrestable offenses or hospitals.

The BHU responded to 392 suicidal calls, made 769 welfare calls, helped designated crisis responders with 1,219 calls, and followed up with 470 contacts last year.

“Within the first two years, the unit has had great success in connecting those in crisis with the right services, at the right time while still being able to follow after the initial contact,” said BHU Director Sgt. Jay Kernkamp.

The BHU is made up of four Spokane Police officers, three Spokane County deputies, along with clinicians from Frontier Behavioral Health.

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