Jan. 12, 2021: A New Partner for Police: Mental Health Professionals to Respond to 9-1-1 Calls for People in Crisis

Licensed clinicians to embed with police in Daly City, San Mateo, Redwood City and South San Francisco

Jan. 12, 2020
Redwood City –
 Health professionals will team with police to help people in a mental or behavioral health crisis in San Mateo County’s four largest cities.

The pilot program approved today by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors seeks to defuse volatile 9-1-1 calls and provide appropriate care for non-violent individuals.

The licensed mental health clinicians will join law enforcement officers in Daly City, San Mateo, Redwood City and South San Francisco as they respond to individuals in a mental or behavioral health crisis. The County and cities expect to have the clinicians embedded in the departments by April.

“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,” said Scott Gilman, director of County Health’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.

“The clinician will then assess the person suspected to be in mental health crisis and determine the best course of action” that can include a wide array of options including calling a person’s personal mental health professional, Gilman said.

Under the two-year agreement approved Tuesday, clinicians will work a 40-hour week with hours and availability based on each city’s needs. Clinicians will work in each city to build relationships and will be deployed by trained 9-1-1 dispatchers with the goal of being in the field able to respond.

If police determine the scene is safe, the clinician will assess the individual and, in collaboration with officers, help identify opportunities for intervention and care.

“Compassionate approach”
“The timing couldn’t be better as public safety incidents involving individuals with mental and behavioral health issues have soared during the pandemic,” said David J. Canepa, president of the Board of Supervisors.

“This is the compassionate approach to take and I have no doubt it will better the relationships between law enforcement and the public that can sometimes be strained,” he said.

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