TACOMA, Wash. – During the Sept. 19, 2023 City Council Study Session, the City of Tacoma provided an update on its alternative response efforts, which continue to focus on:
- Providing specialized response to 911 calls identified as having a mental, behavioral, and substance use disorder component, as well as preventative and follow-up outreach, through its Holistic Outreach Promoting Engagement (HOPE) Team
- Redirecting from law enforcement officers to unarmed Community Service Officers in response to 911 calls, when there is no threat to life or property
- Expanding proactive outreach through its Homeless Engagement Alternatives Liaison (HEAL) Team in response to 311 service requests, and standardizing HEAL Team operations
The HOPE Team recently began its “soft launch” phase. This phase, which started this month, is comprised of self-dispatch and requests from Tacoma Fire Department and Tacoma Police Department personnel on scene. Next month, the HOPE Team will begin responding in tandem with traditional first responders and, in January 2024, the HOPE Team will begin independent response and continue tandem response.
The Community Policing Management Group received 184 applications for Community Services Officers this month, and 75 of those applicants have completed personal history statements. With a goal of hiring and training up to 10 new Community Services Officers by Spring 2024, oral interviews are being scheduled and conducted, and equipment orders are being finalized as well.
Between the end of 2022 and the second quarter of this year, the HEAL Team achieved a 30 percent reduction in backlogged calls. And, between the second and third quarter of this year, the HEAL Team reached full staffing levels and achieved a decrease of 5 percent in open cases. Over the last year, the HEAL Team made 2,218 connections with new and repeat clients. 1,193 clients have accepted services and 152 clients have been placed into temporary shelter. The HEAL Team’s approach has always been one founded on best practices, dignity and compassion. The HEAL Team continues to explore opportunities for responses that center a focus on the wellness needs of individuals in encampments.
Additional details on the City’s alternative response efforts are available at cityoftacoma.org/communitysafety. A recording of today’s update will be posted within 24 hours at cityoftacoma.legistar.com.