Officers and mental health professionals team up in new police unit


SPOKANE, Wash. -Police and mental health professionals are working together in a new crime unit, which provides options for mental health services instead of arrests or hospitalization.

"We're trying to break the cycle and get those folks some help, so that they don't automatically end up back in jail or in the hospitals," Carla Savalli, the director of communications at Frontier Behavioral Health, said.

Four officers are currently paired up with four mental health professionals from Frontier Behavioral Health, according to the city of Spokane.

"By pairing a clinician with an officer, that is on the spot intervention," Savalli said.

Known as the Community Diversion Unit, the new addition to the Spokane Police Department is funded through a series of state grants. The funds for those grants are collected from fines placed against mental health hospitals for not giving patients competency evaluations in an appropriate time period.

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