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Washington County response to lawsuit

The County has issued a statement regarding a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Disability Rights Oregon alleging that people with mental illness are being denied equal access to emergency response services.
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Although Washington County has a policy of not commenting on legal matters where the County is named in litigation, we’re committed to providing professional and compassionate mental health services to community members experiencing a mental health crisis. For more than two decades, we have worked diligently with our partners and stakeholders to develop a system of care to address these deep and complex needs.

The Washington County Behavioral Health Crisis Line has been operating for over 20 years. Additionally, for the past 18 years, Washington County Behavioral Health has provided a Mobile Crisis Team (MCT) that responds to behavioral health calls that come into the Crisis Line, 24 hours/day. In 2022 alone, crisis clinicians responded to over 2,100 calls.

Thirteen years ago, Washington County created the Mental Health Response Team (MHRT) Program which includes specially trained deputies paired with mental health clinicians that respond to behavioral health calls. From 2019-2022, the team responded to over 12,000 calls for help. The MHRT program has been so successful—not only in crisis intervention but also in safety planning and diverting people from the criminal justice system—that several city police departments in Washington County now participate in the program as well. 

Washington County has been working with the ACLU and Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) for the last two months on ways to address their concerns regarding behavioral health calls to 9-1-1 and avoid litigation. We are disappointed that the ACLU and DRO decided to file a lawsuit which we learned of through the media.

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