Bend directs $328K to Deschutes County for expanded Mobile Crisis Assessment Team, Stabilization Center

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The Bend City Council on Wednesday evening authorized the city to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Deschutes County that will provide an additional $328,000 in funding to the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team (MCAT) and the Crisis Stabilization Center. 

The funding will enhance MCAT’s ability to respond to certain calls for those experiencing mental health crises without requiring a law enforcement presence, the city said in Thursday’s announcement.

MCAT will respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year without law enforcement on calls from both 911 and 988, the new suicide and crisis lifeline.

The team will respond in pairs to calls that meet certain criteria, including people with suicidal ideations who have not committed a crime and aren’t currently attempting to hurt themselves or others, and people who are not armed with any weapons or in need of urgent medical attention. 

Funding for the Crisis Stabilization Center will ensure Bend Police and MCAT have a safe and professional place to take people experiencing mental health crises to ensure their needs are assessed and met as best as possible. 

Since January 2020, Bend Police have responded to more than 5,100 calls for service for people experiencing mental health crises. Nearly all Bend Police officers are trained and experienced in crisis intervention and response, but a highly trained mental health professional is often a better option than law enforcement to respond to these types of incidents. 

This expanded MCAT provides the Bend community with the right resources to help those in need, and ensures that the unnecessary presence of police officers does not escalate someone already in crisis, the city said. 

“I am thankful for our strong partnership with Deschutes County,” Police Chief Mike Krantz said. “This helps the city and Bend Police help our community by connecting people experiencing a mental health crisis with behavioral and mental health professionals. It also allows law enforcement professionals to focus on the work they’re trained to do.” 

The $328,000 comes from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds and will be used to hire additional mental health professionals and fund the Crisis Stabilization Center.

It could be considered “seed funding” that could potentially expand if a future assessment indicates the program was successful and additional funding would be beneficial for the community. Success will be measured by a reduction in the number of calls Bend Police officers respond to that include mental health crises. 

Carly Keenan is meeting with representatives from the county and Bend Police. She’ll have a report on NewsChannel 21 at Five.

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