The Chula Vista Police Department partnered with county behavioral health teams that may respond to non-violent mental health and substance use emergencies instead of law enforcement, when appropriate.
In January, the county of San Diego Behavioral Health Services launched a Mobile Crisis Response Team Pilot Program (MCRT) in the northern coastal region. County officials said the program would be made available to all county residents during a Dec.7 Board of Supervisors meeting.
The CVPD took to social media in announcing their partnership. The department clarified the MCRT does not replace Psychiatric Emergency Response Team Clinicians, who are licensed mental health clinicians paired with specially trained law enforcement officers and paramedics.
“The program is intended to provide support services and is not readily available through existing public safety systems & to allow for a non-law enforcement response when appropriate,” The department said.
Law enforcement and county officials have worked together in creating specific criteria dispatchers will use to transfer calls to the MCRT or police.
“Mobile Crisis Response Teams are part of our ongoing implementation of better mental health and addiction treatment services to help put San Diegans on a path to recovery,” Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said in a statement. “In a short period of time, MCRTs are proving to be a success, but as the program continues to roll out we will make adjustments and efficiencies to ensure we’re continuously making progress with helping our residents.”
Law enforcement receives tens of thousands of mental health related calls each year and while all calls require a timely response, many do not require law enforcement intervention. Inadequate mental health services across the county have left police to usually be the first to respond to some mental health and/or substance abuse crisis. SANDAG reports there were 38,497 mental health calls for service to law enforcement in the San Diego region last year.
People can reach Mobile Crisis Response Teams through the county’s Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240. The teams may be contacted by law enforcement agencies for mental health emergencies where officers are not needed.