BPD and Bellevue Fire CARES seek feedback on crisis response pilot program, CCAT

The pilot program sought to reduce arrests, ER visits, and use of force incidents, among others.

The Bellevue Police Department and Bellevue Fire CARES, a community outreach program, are seeking feedback on a new co-responder program they piloted from May 1 to August 31, 2021, which provides assistance and resources to individuals experiencing crisis.

The Community Crisis Assistance Team (CCAT) paired specially trained police officers with mental health professionals to respond to crisis situations, including mental health first aid, crisis intervention, and trauma-informed care, among others.

“We continue to see an increasing number of 911-calls involving individuals in crisis and recognize the need to imagine new ways to respond to these calls to ensure the best outcome for the individual, their families and the community,” said Chief Wendell Shirley. “CCAT members were given the time to work with individuals to find appropriate resources and were able to follow-up to ensure they received care.”

An academic analysis was conducted on the CCAT pilot program by an independent program evaluator, which looked at the statistical data and included personal interviews of individuals CCAT engaged with.

“The CCAT evaluation showed not only a reduction in arrests, use of force and unnecessary emergency room visits, but also an extremely high level of satisfaction from those served by CCAT,” said Chief Shirley. “CCAT was highly effective.”

The desired outcomes of the program were to reduce the number of individuals arrested and booked into jail, the number of unnecessary hospital emergency room visits, and occurrences of police use of force.

“The final evaluation showed CCAT was highly successful in diverting people from jails and hospitals, decreased police use of force, and significantly increased the amount of time CCAT officers spent on calls,” stated the evaluation report.

The evaluation report mentions that in 72% of engagements, CCAT units were the first to arrive on the scene, although there were additional uniformed police officers on scene 46% of the time. According to the report, patrol officers were arriving on scene to serve as backup, and over time they learned to not respond, or to respond and remain out of sight.

During the four-month pilot program, three CCAT units had a total of 1,163 dispatches, or engagements, which averaged at 13.4 calls per day or CCAT shift. The evaluation report states the primary source of engagements were the result of 911 calls (a total of 776), followed by radio dispatch requests (a total of 249). In total, 74 of the dispatches were officer initiated.

The CCAT evaluation report addresses the presenting issues 492 individuals experienced during the engagements:

  • Mental health: 160 individuals, or 68%
  • Unhoused or homelessness: 102 individuals, or 44%
  • Substance abuse: 61 individuals, or 26%
  • Welfare check: 38 individuals, or 16%
  • Medical: 28 individuals, or 12%
  • Criminal activity: 19 individuals, or 8%
  • Mobility: 14 individuals, or 6%
  • Patient cannot self-care or caregiver is overwhelmed: 12 individuals, or 5%
  • Living conditions: 11 individuals, or 5%
  • Fall or trip: 5 individuals, or 2%
  • Patient cannot self-advocate: 5 individuals, or 2%
  • Self-neglect: 3 individuals, or 1%
  • Victim of a crime: 2 individuals, or 1%
  • Fire: 1 individual, or 0%
  • Domestic violence: 1 individual, or 0%
  • Other reason for referral: 30 individuals, or 13%

Caller demographics are also listed in the report, with the majority of individuals engaged by CCAT units being those who identify as white men with no Hispanic ethnicity. The second highest group engaged by CCAT units were those who identify as white females with no Hispanic ethnicity, and the average age of individuals engaged were 42 years old, according to the report.

BPD and Bellevue Fire CARES will accept public feedback regarding the CCAT program before going to Bellevue city council to make the program permanent.

To learn more about the program or to provide input, visit https://www.engagingbellevue.com/community-crisis-assistance-team-pilot?tool=news_feed#tool_tab