Today the Fresno County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement between the County Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) and the Fresno Police Department, establishing a co-response unit to address behavioral health needs on-scene during 9-1-1 emergency calls.
This partnership enables Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) – a dual response unit consisting of law enforcement and DBH clinical and program staff – to be dispatched jointly to 9-1-1 calls within the Fresno Metro area in which there is a behavioral health need. Upon response, CIT will provide compassionate, client/family-centered crisis interventions and support resources for those experiencing behavioral health signs and symptoms.
The CIT program will serve as a pilot to help assess the needs and design necessary to expand services across the broader metropolitan area.
“The need for immediate mental health assistance in our community is great,” says Sal Quintero, District 3 Supervisor. “Having trained specialists respond to these emergencies will help to deescalate situations and quickly connect those in need with critical support and resources while also providing relief and support to our law enforcement and emergency services partners.”
The services provided by the CIT may include, but are not limited to assessment, crisis intervention, community referrals and linkages, and short-term/brief case management. In addition, time permitting, services shall also include community outreach, engagement, education, and prevention to those potentially in need of services for mental illness and/or co-occurring substance use disorders.
The goal of the CIT is to respond to mental health crisis situations with crisis intervention techniques and trained staff to, not only assist the individual and their family, but if necessary, to simultaneously engage the criminal justice system.
Having trained mental health specialists on scene will also allow for the release of responding Fresno PD officers so that they may continue to respond to other crime-related emergencies.
Addressing the Board, Chief Jerry Dyer of the Fresno Police Department stated, “Our team jointly handles roughly 18-20 calls per day, with nearly half requiring some type of mental or behavioral health assistance. This type of co-response with those having expertise in dealing with individuals in crisis greatly helps to deescalate situations and provide the necessary assistance.”
In addition to the CIT, this partnership also provides for use of a co-located office space for law enforcement and DBH staff to perform CIT duties, located at the County-owned Sierra Building on E. Dakota Ave. in Fresno.
This agreement covers a five-year term through June 30, 2022, at a cost of $1,338,585, all of which is funded through the Mental Health Services Act – Prevention and Early Intervention.