Trained mental health professionals were tapped by San Mateo County’s four huge cities to work with the police to respond to mental health crisis calls.
The said program started on Monday, as reported by ABC7.
San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley, who has been in law enforcement for over a decade, wanted to make the police response on mental health calls better.
“My goal always was to solve situations in a safe way that provides for public safety and everyone gets to go home at night,” he said. “Whether that’s both the mentally-ill person or deputy sheriffs and police officers.”
The cities of South San Francisco, San Mateo, Redwood, and Daly police departments have deployed trained mental health professionals on behavioral crisis calls on Monday.
“This is community-centered wellness, this is community-focused wellness and then it allows the police officers to do what they really need to do,” according to San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa.
The program will let the police focus its attention on crime while also giving an alternative to lock-up cell for people who suffer from mental health crises.
According to San Mateo Police Department Clinician Briana Fair, the program places the personnel with the best capacity for the crisis on the front lines.
“I will be able to compile all these community resources into my toolbox, and be able to take that toolbox to every call and really take over in that aspect of just being able to provide the best care rather than just the bare minimum,” Fair said.
But reform advocates based in Redwood City asked for more.
Silicon Valley DSA Redwood City branch co-chair Michael Solorio said: “There’s a lot of fear that police officers will actually unrightfully use force on people, especially mental health crisis situations.”
“So because of that, we’d much prefer the police do not come on every single emergency call,” he added.