CHICO, Calif. - As communities across the country look at ways to handle a mental health crisis without law enforcement, Butte County says it already has its program in place.
The Mobile Crisis Team has partnered with the Chico Police Department’s Target Team.
“It’s a team effort,“ said Butte County Behavioral Health Director, Scott Kennelly.
As Kennelly explains it, the mobile crisis team responds to law enforcement requests.
The team – made up of the council and the peer specialists – arrive on the scene to help law enforcement with de-escalation.
Kennelly said sometimes law enforcement is able to clear a scene so it’s safe for them to handle the situation alone. But if not, officers will stay on the scene while the mobile crisis unit team takes over and works to de-escalate the situation.
“We do respond to some places without law enforcement - for example, the schools - but we don’t go out into un-secure areas, like going to someone’s home for a welfare check, without law enforcement support,” said Kennelly.
Whenever the team can respond without law enforcement, Kennelly said they do, but primarily the two departments work together.
Both teams also participate in joint activities and meetings together to learn the best ways to approach situations.
“We were finding that some of those [mental health crisis calls], prior to this team being put in place, were being evaluated and rescinded as not necessarily being appropriate or there could have been alternatives to hospitalizing someone and through this team being put in place, that number of [mental health crisis calls] that law enforcement has written has dropped about 33 percent between the last fiscal year and this fiscal year,” said Kennelly.
He said the team is very well trained with peer support specialists, who either have been in the mental health system themselves or dealt with mental health issues with family members so they can relate to situations.
You can find the Mobile Crisis Team report, HERE.
Action News Now did reach out to the local law enforcement and target team, but they have not gotten back to us yet on how they are handling these situations.