Chelan County will soon be adding to its roster of full-time police mental health professionals.

Chelan County Commissioner Bob Bugert says the new hires will expand upon a program that makes mental health services available in the field for certain subjects who are contacted by the Wenatchee Valley's four law enforcement agencies.

“We got some initial funding about a year ago to get this program up and running,” explained Bugert. “And we just got a grant so that we are going to be able to hire two more staff individuals.”

The $175,000 grant was awarded by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs will cover the cost of training and uniforming the new staff.

Since being implemented, police contacts with those in need of mental health assistance have increased sevenfold. And Bugert also has high praise for the difference the program is making thus far.

“It’s really been a very positive approach that really has lessened the burden for our sheriff’s office and police officers.”

The county plans to have the new hires ready to accompany its law enforcement officers in the field by sometime next month.