Marysville Mental Health Court ‘dovetails’ with embedded social worker program

MARYSVILLE – This city’s embedded social worker police program, along with ones in Arlington and Snohomish County, are well-known.

But Marysville Municiple Court has a similar program called Mental Health Court.

Judge Lorrie Towers talked to the City Council about the program Monday night.

The goals of the programs are similar. They want to fix the heart of the problem that led to criminal activity, rather than just punish a person.

“We want to reduce repeated criminal activity,” Towers said. “It dovetails nicely with the sheriff’s (embedded social worker) program.”

Like the law enforcement program, participants can get mental health or substance abuse rehabilitation. There are three phases in which they report to a supervisor in decreasing amounts: once every week, one a month, etc., for a minimum of one year. The program will have its first graduate in about six weeks. He has been clean and sober for a year. “He’s come full circle. He has a whole new life,” Towers said.

Not everyone can get through quickly. “We don’t give up on them,” she said.

Towers said participants are intensely supervised.

“It’s a strict and strenuous program. It’s a lot more work. It’s not for everyone,” she said.

But it can be worth it. If they pass, charges are dropped. If they fail, they are automatically pleading guilty to the charges, which prosecutors like.

As for the city court itself, Towers said security has confiscated at the door items such as knives, pepper spray, box cutters and even a hammer. They have also dealt with instances right outside the court, such as assaults and even a car driving into the building.

She said the court system is basically paperless, with people making 1,085 payments online last year totaling a little more than $130,570. Towers said they were one of the first courts in the state to institute “extreme risk protection orders.” Those six cases allowed firearms to be seized from people at risk.

The judge said “people come in on a daily basis” for different types of protection orders. Among those last year were 36 for domestic violence and 52 for anti-harassment.

By the numbers, here is other information Towers provided.

•12,474 court filings with civil, traffic and citations. 7,379 were from Marysville with 3,024 traffic, 583 parking and 78 DUI. 355 were camera school bus tickets. 269 cases used interpreters.

•10,000 hearings with 3,184 arraignments, 2,000 guilty pleas and four trials.

•3,755 video hearings from the Marysville jail, 3,223 from the Snohomish County Jail in Everett, and 360 from SCORE.

Also at the council meeting it was announced that Jeffrey Thomas is being hired as the new Community Development director, replacing Dave Koenig, who retired. He held that same position in Sammamish and also has worked in Bellingham, Shoreline and Yakima County.

The council also approved hiring an additional sergeant or lieutenant for the police department at a cost of $185,479 a year. Initially the hire will work on getting the department accredited, which it hasn’t been for years. Chief Administrative Officer Gloria Hirashima said that designation is more important than ever because of the increase in police liability. It’s best to be transparent and proactive by updating policies, she added.

The council also OK’d $34,000 in Community Beautification Grants:

•Village Green $7,500. Improve and repair community park and playground area.

•Harborview Homeowners Association $7,500. Replacement of deteriorated neighborhood fencing along Sunnyside Boulevard and 52nd Avenue, bark installed and neighborhood sign refurbished.

•65th Drive and 97th Street NE $7,500. Tree removal and cleanup of neighborhood stormwater pond. •Sunset Boulevard. $7,500. Stormwater pond vegetation removal, cleanup and fence repair.

•Otter Creek Homeowners Association $4,000, repair and replace fencing around neighborhood stormwater pond.

It also OK’d reappointments to various committees:

•Kelly Huestis, Roger Hoen, Mark James, and Tom King to the Community and Housing Development Citizens Advisory Committee.

•Matthew Rosenthal, Jesica Stickles, Mary Kirkland, and Charles Lee to the Hotel/Motel Committee.

•Steve Leifer to the Planning Commission.

In other news:

•At Lakefair in Olympia last weekend, Marysville Strawberry Festival won the Mayor’s Award.

•Jim Mizell is retiring from the fire department.

•250 people participated in the All-Comer’s Track Meet at Lakewood High School last Thursday.