Kirkland welcomes new community responders for mental health crisis situations

Program is intended to reduce reliance on police as a primary response to behavioral health crises.

The City of Kirkland announced the newest additions to its Community Responder Program with the hiring of Kimberly Hardy and Molly Kitz. They join CR Robert Rebecca and Interim Community Responder Program Supervisor, Renee Cox.

The Community Response Program team responds to 9-1-1 calls in coordination with Kirkland police officers and/or firefighter / emergency medical technicians when a call for service has an underlying behavioral health component. One of the objectives of the program is to reduce over-reliance on police as a primary response to 9-1-1 calls involving community members in behavioral health crises.

“Our newest Community Responders add experience and enthusiasm to the City’s exciting program,” said Councilmember Neal Black. “They are great additions to our specialized team, and we’re grateful for the positive difference they will make in the lives of community members who need their help the most.”

Kimberly Hardy holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Washington State University, a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Northwest University, and a PhD in counselor education and supervision from the University of the Cumberlands. Hardy also served a variety of military duties in the Navy from Guantanamo Bay Cuba to Recruit Training Command boot camp.

“I feel my background in both mental health and in the military has really prepared me to work alongside Kirkland first responders to serve community members in crisis,” said Hardy.

Molly Kitz began her career as a detention officer and quickly recognized the severe lack of mental health treatment available for people who are incarcerated or newly released. She now holds master’s degrees in clinical mental health counseling and substance abuse counseling from the University of the Cumberlands. Kitz is experienced working with incarcerated youth and adults and managing mental health crises as a social worker.

“I’m excited to contribute my experience in mental health and in the criminal justice system to help meet the mental health needs of our community,” said Kitz.