Program partnering mental health clinicians with cops on certain 911 calls starts Monday

in Community

The pilot program that will have mental health professional team with law enforcement to respond to calls involving non-violent individuals undergoing mental or  behavorial health crises is set to launch Monday, Dec. 6, in Daly City, San Mateo, Redwood City and South San Francisco, according to San Mateo County officials.

As part of the program, called the Community Wellness and Crisis Response Pilot Project, the County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) has contracted with local nonprofit StarVista to train and supervise clinicians who will be “embedded with each city’s police department based on need.” 911 dispatchers will deploy clinicians along with police officers to calls regarding individuals suspected of experiencing mental or behavorial health crises.

“Once officers declare the scene safe, clinicians will assess the individual and determine the best methods of immediate care,” County officials said.

The program’s dual goals are to “provide an alternative to jail and overburdened hospital emergency rooms for non-violent individuals undergoing a behavioral health crisis and free up police officers,” according to County officials.

“This program is intended to give law enforcement a resource by teaming a police officer with a mental health clinician that can help manage high-risk situations in a way that improves outcomes and public safety,” said Supervisor Don Horsley.

County Manager Mike Callagy added the program will provide “another option for those who need mental health care rather than incarceration or hospitalization.”

The pilot will be independently evaluated by the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University.

The two-year program will cost $1.5 million, of which $408,388 will be contributed by the four participating cities and $468,388 will be contributed by the County.