Snhomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary says the aim of the program is to reduce wait times for jail inmates requiring the examinations.

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EVERETT —  The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office says it will now use videoconferencing to do mental competency evaluations at the county jail in Everett.

The Daily Herald reports that the jail is the flagship site for the new program, which is being tested at three other jails in the state.

The state’s Office of Forensic Mental Health Services created the new program to reduce wait times for cases where it’s unclear if detainees are mentally sound enough to defend themselves.

Officials say it could especially help those with significant mental illness who get arrested for misdemeanors.

In 2016, there were more than 18,000 referrals of Snohomish County inmates to jail mental health professionals, who had face-to-face contact with 3,400 inmates for mental health-related issues, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Ty Trenary said they hope that inmates can get into treatment and connected with resources.

The state has been long been criticized for its wait times for such evaluations.