This is a huge step forward for police and law enforcement in our area.

Effective immediately, trained mental health professionals will now be riding with police officers on patrols in Kennewick, Richland and Pasco.  Thanks to a $1 million dollar-plus grant, the Lourdes Health Network's Mobile Outreach team is now funded through 2021.

At least 3 such professionals will be riding with officers and available to assist with calls that require mental health assistance--such as a suicide call or person having a very difficult time. These professionals will be riding 24/7.

Increasingly in our area, and across the country, law enforcement officials say having mental health experts available on site can often prevent situations from escalating, and are likely to help save lives in some cases.

Lourdes officials now say this means a person can call 911 about a situation that might not require an arrest, but rather the immediate assistance of a mental health professional as well as law enforcement to prevent harm from coming to that person or others. It will also allow for people who are taken into custody for a crime but also clearly need mental health assistance to be evaluated and helped--instead of just sitting in jail for 24-48 hours until they can be assessed.