County mental health clincians may soon join cops on calls

in Community

San Mateo County mental health professionals may soon join police officers in four cities in responding to calls for service when a mental health crisis is suspected.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors is set to decide Tuesday whether to move forward with the two-year pilot program partnering Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS)] clinicians with law enforcement personnel in Redwood City, San Mateo, South San Francisco and Daly City. Under the program, a clinician and law enforcement personnel would simultaneously be dispatched to the scene.

The program is expected to be fully staffed and operational “by the first quarter of the 2021 calendar year,” according to County documents.

“The goal of the immediate response will be to de-escalate the crisis and to support the safety of the individual in crisis, those around the individual, and all responding to the incident,” according to County staff. The BHRS Clinician will provide early intervention, referrals to therapeutic hospitalizations, and guidance to support services for individuals in mental health crisis.

The pilot program is set to cost $876,776, of which $408,388 will come from the cities and the rest from the County.

The John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities of the Stanford University Graduate School of Education (Gardner Center) has been tapped to support planning, implementation and evaluation of the program.