King County’s Sheriff’s Office will be receiving $2 million in federal funds to improve its ability to address people in crisis and provide body cameras for deputies.
The grant money is coming from the Community Project Funding program included in Congress’ 2023 government funding bill, which is providing more than $22 million to numerous agencies and nonprofits around Washington’s Congressional District 8, Rep. Kim Schrier announced in a Dec. 23 press release.
“I’m thrilled that I could go to bat for the 8th District and make sure all 15 of our district’s requested projects received funding,” said Rep. Schrier. “These projects are a unique opportunity to advocate for our community’s needs.”
The Sheriff’s Crisis Response Team will be receiving $1 million to aid deputies responding to people in crisis in East King County communities, and eventually, all around the county.
According to Sergeant Corbett Ford, the Sheriff’s Department only utilizes the CRT — which consists of trained behavioral health experts that co-respond with deputies on specific calls — in and around the city of Burien, but the money will help push CRT responses into other areas of the county.
“There’s been growing evidence that not all 911 calls need to be responded to by law enforcement alone,” Ford said, adding that the CRT also sometimes responds to calls without deputies.
The hopes of this program, Schrier said, is to reduce unnecessary use-of-force incidents. Proponents of such programs have also said these programs allow law enforcement to focus on crimes, rather than responding to people with mental health issues they’re not necessarily trained to deal with.
The Sheriff’s Office will be receiving another $1 million to equip deputies with body cameras. According to Schrier, the office is the largest law enforcement agency in the state that is currently not using body cams.
Regular body cam use is still a few years away, Ford said, saying the Sheriff’s Office’s goal to start rolling out the cameras is 2025. Additionally, use of body cams won’t be office-wide, but rolled out by precinct.