Man injured in Redwood City stabbing

Mental health clinicians may soon join local cops on crisis calls

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When police officers respond to crisis calls in some San Mateo County cities, they may soon be joined by a mental health clinician.

It’s one of a number of police reform strategies being developed following community calls to re-imagine public safety since the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

Tonight at 6 p.m., a Redwood City Council Ad-Hoc Committee on Policing will present proposals for a “multi-year Equity Workplan.” The workplan was developed following several months of research and community meetings on ways to reform public safety.

As part of the recommendations, city staff is working to develop a pilot program that would partner mental health clinicians with police officers in San Mateo County cities on crisis calls.

“Conceptually, the San Mateo County Health Department would provide mental health clinicians to be assigned to the Daly City, Redwood City, San Mateo, and South San Francisco Police Departments; conceptually, one clinician would be assigned on an ongoing basis to each department and one would float among the departments as needed,” according to city documents describing the workplan.

As medical professionals, the clinicians would “have access to medical records and could help with follow up care and support after the call for service is over,” the city added.

“The offering of additional supportive services would also include assistance to individuals with alcohol and/or chemical dependencies,” city staff said. “Establishing a pilot program would help the City evaluate the value of the approach. The clinicians also could support officers working with individuals who have mental health issues that do not rise to a crisis level, individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and the provision of training to staff.”

Discussions are underway with the Gardner Center at Stanford University to establish effectiveness measures for the program, expected to run as a pilot for about 1-2 years, according to the city.

Redwood City staff is expected to bring an agreement on the pilot program to the City Council later this year.

In addition to the pilot, the Equity Workplan that will be presented to the City Council of Redwood City tonight includes proposals to improve public safety data collection, analysis and transparency, create a new council public safety committee to guide public safety initiatives and enhanced focus on providing equity in education.

Read more about these efforts in a City of Redwood City post on Medium.com.

Tonight’s meeting will be held via Zoom. To join, visit redwoodcity.zoom.us, select “Join” and enter Meeting ID 949 6945 8344. For dial-in comments, call *67 (669) 900–6833 (your phone number will appear on the live broadcast if *67 is not dialed prior to the phone number), enter Meeting 949 6945 8344 and press *9 to request to speak.

Photo credit: Redwood City Police Department

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