The panel on mental health and law enforcment

The panel on mental health and law enforcement

Paul Kealoha Blake, president of Berkeley’s Mental Health Commission, discussed the Kayla Moore case. He said the voice from the streets is very important. More and more, police officers are becoming de facto mental health specialists. Community needs to be more equipped to deal with mental health. “We as a community need to come together to become first responders.” “The Idea is to reduce the trauma that is already there.” Speaking from my experience on street with people with mental crisis, 90 percent of time requires is time and a call response. Uniformed officers do not calm the situation down. Uniformed officers can move the situation from deescalation to highly accelerated.

I am thankful to have law enforcement, but don’t want to be dependent on law enforcement.

Recommendations from Moore incident:some for police policy and others are based on mental health experiences. Includes training for law enforcement and citizens; research projects; community needs to work more closely with law enforcement; most law enforcement works from “‘command and control.’ but does not work in a mental health situations and can be dangerous;” examine policy when call is dispatched and are there clear protocols when it’s a mental health situation.

Lt. Jaybee Brennan with the Riverside Police Department: For most part, Paul and I agree. Law enforcement is part of the community. Unless people understand how law enforcement reacts, from there a starting point for understanding.

For law enforcement across the state: Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST). State mandate, 8 hours in the police academy. That is the basic for California. Officers are trained o try to decifer what type of mntal illness or disability we are dealing with. Dispatchers are trained to ask the appropriate questions. So officers in filed have best information when they are out there. We understand that when we are in a uniform that does build a wall, and we are trained to try to jump over that wall. We need to train with professionals who are out there, absolutely. We need to work collaboratively with the community. In Riverside, we do have a collaboration. We do have a specific officer assigned to mental health, someone in social services to work with law enforcement. But these services do not have sufficient resources. They are not there at 12 o’clock at night, when they are needed. Other challenge in law enforcement, until we diversify our law enforcement agencies, we are not gong to make a lot of progress in connecting with our community. Women generally don’t cost agencies a lot of money in law suits. we need to have people in our agencies that are representative of our community, so when I go out to scene hopefully there is someone there that can relate to me and I can relate to them and we can bring down that high volatile situation.

Karen Larsen, Mental Health Director and Alcohol and Drug Administrator in Yolo County: In Yolo County, we have mental health training for adults and for youth. Funding committed to 4 community crisis response teams; they work non traditional days and hours. Evaluated our crisis calls. When a crisis call comes in, they go out with the police officers in the field. We try to have a more therapeutic discussion with that person to avoid incarceration.


Brennan: More than 50 percent of those incarcerated are mentally ill. Some communities have created mental health courts, but the problem is that those that that have facilities to deal with this are bursting at the seams. AB 109 huge impact on this issue, emphasis in state less incarceration time. The problem is, while this is a good thing to evaluate and get them out of the system, but then they are back on the streets and homeless with a lack of follow-up.

Larson: in Yolo County, have identified when most mental health calls come in and what areas are more likely to have calls, and have place mental health clinicians in the cars with the officers in those areas and times.