On Sunday, August 1st, Tukwila officers received a 911 call at approximately 6:35PM requesting assistance with restraining a patient who had taken an access key card from an employee at Cascade Behavioral.
The duty sergeant called the reporting party after reviewing the call and explained that officers cannot assist with physically restraining a patient that is in a mental health facility to receive mental health treatment that has not committed a crime. Officers received several more 911 calls from staff members at Cascade Behavioral shortly thereafter claiming that an assault had occurred.
Officers arrived at the scene and spoke with the staff supervisor. While questioning the supervisor, it was determined through questioning that no assault had occurred and that a staff member had been injured after a group of employees attempted to jump on the patient to physically restrain them. There was no probable cause established to indicate that the patient had assaulted the staff member. There was also no information provided to officers at the time of their questioning to indicate that any other crimes had been committed or that there was probable cause to make an arrest for any other crimes. As a result, no arrest was made. Officers were then informed that staff just wanted officers to assist with physically restraining the patient so that they could medicate him.
Officers explained to staff that they were not legally allowed to physically restrain someone just for the purpose of being medicated. Per HB1310, a peace officer may use physical force against a person when necessary to: Protect against criminal conduct where there is probable cause to make an arrest; effect an arrest; prevent an escape as defined under chapter 9A.76 RCW; or protect against an imminent threat of bodily injury to the peace officer, another person, or the person against whom force is being used.” Imminent threat is defined as “based on the totality of the circumstances, it is objectively reasonable to believe that a person has the present and apparent ability, opportunity, and intent to immediately cause death or serious bodily injury to the peace officer or another person.” In this instance, there was no probable cause that a crime had been committed and no imminent threat to officers or anyone else present to warrant the officers physically restraining the patient on behalf of the medical staff. Prior to the implementation of HB1310, officers would also not have physically restrained a patient present in a mental health facility due to liability issues associated with doing so.
Under the Washington States Involuntary Treatment Act, officers can assist in transporting someone to get treatment, either because the person poses a danger to someone or has committed a crime, or because a designated crisis responder evaluated that person as being a risk of harming themselves. In this instance, the patient was already physically present in a controlled access, mental health facility under the observation of trained medical staff.
Per Tukwila protocols to responding to calls for service, Tukwila supervisors and officers review and evaluate the calls for service and respond accordingly. In some instances, a call for service may warrant phone contact with the reporting party for more information or to be handled via phone. In other instances, it may warrant in-person contact and further investigation and or law enforcement action. Regardless of the call for service, officers will respond either via phone or in-person depending on the circumstances and attempt to resolve and or mediate the situation.
In relation to this incident, officers made contact both via phone and in person, determined that a crime had not been committed based on the information presented to them, that there was no imminent threat of bodily harm and that there was no legal grounds or authority for them to assist medical staff with physically restraining a patient.