YAKIMA, WA - You often hear there aren't enough resources to help people going through a crisis. One program across the state is working to tackle this.
Designated Crisis Responder, the program known as DCR, allows six crisis responders to tag along with law enforcement officers on calls where a mental health expert is needed.
"More days than not I'm having meaningful experiences," said David Guyer, Law Enforcment DCR. "Where you know, you can go with somebody to that dark place their in, and in that crisis moment, and sit there, and be with them, is a really powerful thing. I've been to countless calls on the bridge, Fred Redmon Bridge, where we are helping someone through a really tough situation."
The program has been in place since July of 2018 and it's been welcomed with open arms by all law enforcement agencies in Yakima.
"You know deputies and police officers are really good at calming situations, getting things to a certain place, but often we find ourselves at the end," said Sheriff Robert Udell, Yakima County Sheriff's Office. "Now what do we do? And, that's when the DCR's step in. They come with a variety of resources and abilities that we just don't have."
Sheriff Udell also says what's great about this program is the response time.
"In the old days the system with MHP, mental health professionals and trying to get that sort of help it could be hours before someone will show up."
In the last six months DCRs have interacted with close to 500 people.
One responder alone made more than 200 interactions last year, all while riding with the Yakima Police Department.
In Yakima County the program is offered by Comprehensive Healthcare and it's funded by the Trueblood Grant, a grant that came out of a lawsuit which established there weren't enough mental health services in the state. However, the funding is coming to an end.
"In 18 months there is the threat that this program, this unbelievable program that has helped so many is gonna go away," said Sheriff Udell.
Sheriff Udell says he's already started looking for ways to to keep the program, because without it, there would not be enough resources.
"Having DCRs keeps people out of jail, it gets them resources quicker. It is the way to keep people out of those place that really is the end state the place where they are not going to get help a homeless shelter, jail. That's not the place to go."