If the Yolo County Board of Supervisors approves the agreement at today’s meeting, Yolo County would become the first in the state to take advantage of SB 82, the Mental Health Wellness Act of 2013, and fund services that would lead to clinical staff accompanying law enforcement responding to mental health crises in Yolo County.
The agreement calls for $2.1 million for Turning Point Community Programs to provide community-based crisis response services to Yolo County residents coming into contact with law enforcement while experiencing a psychiatric crisis for the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2017. The grant covers the full cost of the program and there is not expected to be any general fund impact.
“During the County’s recent Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Community Program Planning process, community stakeholders, including hospital and community-based mental health providers, as well as law enforcement officers, expressed a need for a County-wide mobile mental health crisis response system,” the county staff report said. “Stakeholders expressed a need for clinical intervention at the point of crisis and follow-up support to engage each individual in regular on-going services.”
The Vanguard has been calling for such programs since the Taser death in 2008 of Ricardo Abrahams, who had checked into the Safe Harbor, part of the Yolo Community Care Continuum, upon the urging of his family due to a condition where he was increasingly disoriented, stressed and uncommunicative.
At some point he left the facility. Concerned about his well-being, the facility alerted the police. When the police arrived, a confrontation ensued where Mr. Abrahams’ anxiety escalated to the point where police feared for his safety and their safety.
Although all he had was a pencil, he was repeatedly Tasered and finally the police jumped on him in an effort to subdue him. While face down, his large size apparently led to his own asphyxiation and death.
At the time, scrutiny was drawn on the increased use of Tasers when dealing with mental health issues and questions were asked as to whether police were the best trained to deal with people suffering from serious mental health issues.
While advocacy groups pushed for alternative approaches, such as the Memphis model which utilizes both police and mental health professionals, Senate Bill (SB) 82, known as the Investment in Mental Health Wellness Act of 2013 in California, created grant opportunities to use MHSA dollars to expand crisis services statewide.
According to the county staff report, “These newly funded services are expected to lead to improved life outcomes for the persons served and improved system outcomes for mental health and its community partners. The Yolo County Department of Alcohol, Drug & Mental Health (ADMH) was successful in its response to this grant opportunity with a proposal to fund crisis personnel, including clinicians and peer counselors providing services in the community.”
Under the proposed Community Based Crisis Response (CBCR) services, a mental health clinician would be housed at each of four (4) law enforcement agencies in Woodland, Davis, West Sacramento, and Winters.
Clinical staff would accompany law enforcement responding to mental health crises throughout the County.
“The goal of the CBCR is to provide trained clinical staff at the critical juncture when law enforcement responds to a report of a mental health crisis in an effort to expand the range of options available beyond placement in hospitals or jails,” county staff notes. “These clinical staff may divert individuals from being taken to a hospital emergency room or jail and facilitate access to alternatives to hospitalization, such as a crisis residential treatment program.”
In addition, “Clinical staff would also assist in developing a self-care plan to help the individual in crisis identify steps toward recovery and avoiding future crises. Under the CBCR, peer counseling staff would provide follow up support after a crisis event has passed to support an individual’s access to services that will prevent future crises and promote recovery and wellness. Peer counseling staff would be comprised of individuals with lived experience with mental illness who are willing and able to relate to individuals as peers.”
On April 10, 2014 the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Department issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) requesting proposals from qualified providers interested in providing Community Based Crisis Response (CBCR) services to Yolo County residents who come into contact with law enforcement during a psychiatric crisis to reduce the cost of residential placement and psychiatric hospitalization, reduce emergency room visits and incarceration for residents experiencing a psychiatric crisis, facilitate recovery, and avoid future crises.
The County reports, “ADMH did not receive any proposals from this solicitation. ADMH subsequently did a survey of qualified vendors and Turning Point Community Programs agreed to provide these services. ADMH is recommending to the Board of Supervisors approve this contract with Turning Point Community Programs to provide these services from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2017.”
The following agencies will participate: County Counsel; Local Mental Health Board; Winters, West Sacramento, Davis and Woodland Police Departments; City of West Sacramento; Yolo County Sheriff’s Department; Yolo Community Care Continuum; Woodland Memorial Hospital; Sutter Davis Hospital; and RISE Inc.
Davis Police Chief Landy Black apparently never received the Vanguard’s email, however, the Vanguard has now reached him and will have a follow up story chronicling the Davis Police Department’s involvement.
No county general funds are required by this action. The total cost of this Agreement is $2,136,225 for three fiscal years.
—David M. Greenwald reporting