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Posted on: January 26, 2021

Daly City Votes to Embed Mental Health Clinician in Police Department and Expand Emergency Services

At the Daly City Council meeting on January 25, 2021, the City Council unanimously voted to approve a two-year pilot program to provide mental health services during emergency calls through a partnership with the County of San Mateo’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) and some of the largest cities on the peninsula including San Mateo, South San Francisco and Redwood City. At this time, all partner agencies have voted to join the program.

“Leading by example and through partnerships has been a foundation for the way local governments collaborate in our county, and I am eager to implement this new mental health program the right way, together. Offering mental health care on scene will help us de-escalate crises and achieve better outcomes for everyone involved,” says Daly City Manager Shawnna Maltbie.

The new program—the Community Wellness and Crisis Response Team (CWCRT)—will launch in the spring when a full-time BHRS mental health clinician joins the Daly City Police Department. The clinician will partner with police officers to respond to incidents that involve mental health crises. While both clinicians and law enforcement will be dispatched together to emergency calls, clinicians will have decision making authority on assistance provided to individuals in crisis. Police officers will first assess safety on site and clinicians will offer mental health assessments, field counseling and referrals. Police officers will continue to maintain responsibility over criminal matters. 

Throughout 2020, Daly City community members expressed a need for changes in policing and law enforcement policies, especially to create safer outcomes for members of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. “This program aligns with community conversations we conducted in 2020 around systemic racism and the Black Lives Matter movement, and there was clear demand for more mental health professionals in emergency response,” said Daly City Mayor Juslyn Manalo. “With the help of licensed clinicians, we will better meet community needs and serve as an example to other police departments,” she added. 

The CWCRT is modeled after other successful mental health programs in the country and will compliment a wide range of emergency health services already offered by County Health. The partnership also includes Stanford University’s John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, which has helped with implementation and will continue to analyze data collected over time to help agencies fine tune the program during the initial two years. 

“This program is a first step in filling the gap in mental health services and we expect to learn continually over the next two years. In close partnership with Stanford University, we’ll be able to make changes to the program as we collect more data,” said Daly City Police Chief Patrick Hensley. 

Demand for mental health services is high. The City estimates that a minimum of $100,000 was spent in 2020 on emergency calls related to mental health crises and the County estimates that half of all individuals booked into County jails have an underlying mental or behavioral health condition. The CWCRT will provide alternatives to jail and hospital emergency rooms and offer better mental health care for individuals in need.

At the City Council meeting, the BHRS Clinical Services Manager for Crisis Outreach, Jennifer Basler-Cameron, explained how clinicians will be highly trained professionals with crisis backgrounds and will complete 40 hours of training in disengagement, de-escalation, substance abuse, mental illness, suicide assessment and more. They will also receive safety training from the Daly City Police Department.

The partner agencies will share the total two-year program cost of approximately $1.5 million, with Daly City contributing a total of $169,005. 

View copies of the Staff Report and the Memorandum of Understanding on the City website

View the City Council meeting livestream on the City’s YouTube channel.

 

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