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Police partnership with mental health clinicians expanding in Washington County

The mental health professionals offer everything from crisis assessment and evaluation to stabilization services and follow-up care.

TIGARD, Ore. — Police agencies in southern Washington County are teaming up with mental health clinicians to help better serve people in crisis. 

Officials in Tigard said that about 20% of all police calls have a mental or behavioral health component. The new pilot program, which started at the end of summer, is a partnership between clinicians from LifeWorks NW and police in Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood and King City. 

The mental health professionals offer everything from crisis assessment and evaluation to stabilization services and follow-up care. The team responds to any crisis call throughout the south cities area whenever the need is there. 

The program has been going on in Washington County for years, but recently expanded to the southern cities. Crystal Fisher is a mental health clinician that works throughout the county.

"It could be anything from family members concerned that someone might be in danger," Fisher said. "Someone could be calling in for some help, could be more severe things that someone needs more immediate medical attention."

Fisher has had defensive tactic training and wears a ballistic vest at all times. She often works with Officer Northcote with the Tigard Police.

"It's very easy and quick to bring a licensed masters level clinician to a call [where] she would be better suited for to lead police out of it and handle it as a behavioral or mental health issue," Officer Northcote said.   

"If this program did not exist, it could be clinicians going out on their own and trying to figure things out and police going out alone and trying to figure things out, I'm all about collaboration and getting clients the help they need in the moment," Fisher said.