Chelan County's recently formed mental health intervention service will be placed within the sheriff's office after a vote by county commissioners Monday.

The 2-1 vote means the department known as the Behavioral Health Unit will be supervised by the sheriff's office, which commissioner Bob Bugert sees as an appropriate move.

"That does sound like the most cost-effective approach, and most efficient approach," said Bugert.

Bugert and fellow commissioner Tiffany Gering said they spoke with Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) program manager Anna Johnson and Chelan County Sheriff's Chief of Patrol Adam Musgrove about where the BHU should be housed.

Both Johnson and Musgrove have been heavily involved on the creation of the unit.

Commissioner Kevin Overbay was the single vote against the move, saying BHU serves a need beyond the scope of law enforcement.

"BHU is reaching out to individuals, doing welfare checks on individuals that may be suffering a crisis situation, or entering into a crisis situation where law enforcement is not even called," said Overbay.

The BHU currently has two employees and is headed by mental health specialist Anna Gonzalez.

Anna Gonzalez - Image from Chelan County


Commissioners also signed a $180,000 contract with Beacon Health Options, which specializes in clinical mental health and substance abuse disorder. Beacon awarded the county’s BHU $180,000 in grant dollars to be split over two years.

The money is being used to build the local program, and has included adding an outreach case manager to the program in addition to Gonzalez.

As well, two more hires into the BHU are coming onboard quickly, with one person scheduled to begin next Monday while the other will start in two weeks.

After Monday's vote, commissioners think they'll need to formalize the unit's placement on the sheriff's office quickly to avoid complications in the system.

Commissioners also envision having a regional diversion center created and built at some point to house behavioral health patients.

Overbay said the center should be independent and separate from the sheriff's office with its own governing board.

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