Lacey to establish new Mobile Outreach Team for crisis response

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The Lacey City Council moved yesterday to establish the Mobile Outreach Team (MOT), a pilot program which provides alternative crisis response.

In a presentation to the city council meeting yesterday, Police Chief Robert Almadastated that the MOT will assist homeless individuals as well as those experiencing behavioral health issues. The program aims to render proper services for individuals in crises including mental health issues, homelessness, criminal behavior, violence, and self-harm.

The program is similar in some ways to Olympia’s long-standing Crisis Response Unit service, which is often dispatched prior to police involvement in a situation.

How it will work

Lacey Police will work with the Olympic Health and Recovery Services (OHRS) to create and implement a pilot program. The program will work on a case-to-case basis, based on referrals made by uniformed police officers.

Once a client is referred to the MOT, the team will identify and provide necessary resources to individuals.. The program seeks to create a sense of trust between the clients and the MOT personnel, and encourage them to receive appropriate services.

The MOT is composed of two units. Each unit will have one crisis clinician and one peer specialist. Aside from working with these specialists, patrol officers will also provide police support and collaborate with the MOT to provide services for people in need.

Two teams

Initially, the first mobile team unit will work Sundays to Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; a second team will work Wednesdays to Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m. However, work hours may be adjusted depending on the number of service calls.

The chief said that the program, “will provide regular outreach to our homeless population by [assisting in] ongoing case management.” Almada added, “this process will help to develop trust and willingness to engage in coordinated services to improve living and housing conditions for our most vulnerable community members.”

The city council also expressed their support for the MOT. During the discussion, Councilmember Caroline Cox shared, “I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this happening. Cox also referred to Olympia’s Crisis Response Unit (CRU) which was recently integrated as a part of the city’s operations. “It is a model worth pursuing,” Cox said.

Moreover, Mayor Andy Ryder added, “it’s not gonna solve our issues, but it's another tool in the toolbox.”

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