Five RADAR cities inform Gov. Inslee about need for Crisis Triage facility in North King county

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The five RADAR cities: Lake Forest Park, Shoreline, Kirkland, Bothell, Kenmore

On Wednesday, March 1, 2022, Governor Jay Inslee convened the Mayors and City Managers of the Five RADAR Cities (Shoreline, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, Bothell and Kirkland), as well as the RADAR Navigator Program Manager and key staff from the King County Department of Behavioral Health and Recovery. 

Governor Inslee reached out to the City of Kirkland, because he had heard that the RADAR Cities had been working diligently to create and site a Crisis Triage facility in North King County. The governor expressed support for the endeavor, and work is ongoing to bring this critical resource to our community.

Mayor Mason Thompson, City of Bothell, spoke about the success of the RADAR Navigator Program thus far and the future vision of a comprehensive crisis response system for North King County.

Mayor Mason Thompson of Bothell addressing Gov Inslee.
Photo courtesy Alison Sborov of the Governor’s Office

Mayor Thompson’s comments to the Governor

Governor, we believe we’re on the cusp of something special. The combination of what RADAR (Response Awareness, De-escalation, and Referral) and its mental health professional navigators do are unique in the world of mental health response.
  • RADAR has response plans that allow Navigators to share notes with police in all five cities so that in the future officers can have context around who they’re responding to before they arrive on scene.
  • Rather than a co-responder model where everything is under the police department, or a community-responder model where everything is apart from it, RADAR is moving toward a model where Navigators can respond with or without the police, and share information rather than silo it – so we can have the maximum impact
  • RADAR is ripe to be copied. Partnership with multiple jurisdictions keeps costs low, and we all know this problem doesn’t care about city borders. We’d love to help franchise this across the state.
  • We started this in 2018. We’re not trying to create something, we want to take what’s already here, already working well, and leverage it to have even more impact.
To do that there are big-picture needs that are beyond the scope of even five cities
  • Crisis care – what we’re here to talk about today. The most well-known community responder examples like Cahoots in Eugene and STAR in Denver are run out of mental health institutions. They can do more than deescalate. They can help with the real problem, not just the symptom.
Our navigators usually have two options. To take people to jail or the hospital, because there are 12 crisis care beds in King County, and the closest to us is Kent.
  • Training/employee pipeline. These positions pay very well for mental health but it is hard to fill them because it’s a unique role. A state-level program similar to the police corps would be very helpful
  • Response plans being shared – An officer knowing people’s triggers and having context before they engage reduces the chance of a first response worst-case scenario. If response plans were uploaded into WSCIC, law enforcement the state over would have the information that Navigators upload.
Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet welcomes the governor.
Photo courtesy Alison Sborov of the Governor’s Office

All three of these not only make the program more effective, they also make it easier for other cities to adopt. And as other cities adopt this, they start helping even more people, their response plans help our departments, and that’s a really exciting virtuous circle that could help a lot of people. 

I hope you leave here today not just excited about what’s happening in North King County, but excited about the possibility of what could happen in the whole state.

Because with state help, we see a not-distant future in which Washington has a program that can be considered the example in the country. We have political will, supportive police departments, and we’ve learned a lot over the years we’ve already been doing this.

We know that you care about helping to advance necessary conversations – we've seen you lead on the national level. Through RADAR with state help, Washington can lead here too.


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