We’ll see what happens when the “non-violent” call turns violent without notice.
Street teams will respond to mental health crises instead of cops
PUBLISHED: November 30, 2020 at 12:04 p.m. | UPDATED: December 1, 2020 at 5:39 a.m.
Marking another step in its journey toward police reform, San Francisco on Monday launched the first phase of its Street Crisis Response Team.
Under the pilot program, teams of paramedics, behavioral health clinicians and peer specialists will respond to certain non-violent 911 calls in the city, instead of cops. Starting Monday, the first team will begin responding to people experiencing mental health crises.
“This new program can help us break the cycle that all too often keeps people going in and out of our emergency rooms or our jails. When the Street Crisis Response Team responds to a call for someone in crisis, they’ll be able to help with compassion and clinical skills to get people the care and support they need,” Mayor London Breed said, according to a news release. “Changing the way we respond to non-violent calls is going to take work and it’s going to take time. The SCRT is an important first step in our long-term effort to change how we respond to people suffering on our streets.”
The move comes as cities around the Bay Area and nationwide are grappling with demands to “defund the police” and re-invest the money in social service programs, following recent police killings of Black men and women. Calls for police reform stand to have a major impact on how cities interact with their homeless residents, who often are disproportionately cited and arrested by police. Oakland earlier this year cut its police budget by about 5% and approved funding for the Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland, a pilot program to use trained community members to respond to calls related to mental health and homelessness, instead of police. The program is slated to launch in January, with one team in West Oakland, and one team in East Oakland.
The latest news and announcements from Mayor London N. Breed
Monday, November 30, 2020
Partnership between the Department of Public Health and Fire Department begins with first SCRT Team on the street today with more teams to come as pilot ramps up. SCRT offers a non-police response to calls related to people suffering from mental health and substance use issues on City streets.