CALIFORNIA: Removing Cops from Behavioral Crisis Calls: “We Need to Change the Model”

December 11, 2020

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News
Speaker:  California


San Francisco is changing the way it responds to behavioral health crisis calls. Under a new program,  behavioral health-related 911 calls will be handled by mobile crisis response teams instead of law enforcement. Teams will be made up of paramedics, mental health professionals, and peer support counselors from the city’s fire and health departments. The program aims to defuse behavioral health crises and connect people in distress with needed resources, freeing up police to focus on violent and criminal activity. “These crises have all emerged because a need has gone unmet,” said Timothy Black with Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS), a Eugene, Oregon, program that the San Francisco effort is loosely based on. “And the CAHOOTS response is really about meeting people where they’re at and identifying those needs and supporting somebody in accessing them.”

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