LAPD Launches Program For Mental Health Clinicians To Respond To Some Calls – NBC Los Angeles

on Feb10
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The Los Angeles Police Department has begun a program to dispatch a mental health response team, consisting of a sworn officer and a Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health clinician, to certain mental health calls, Assistant Chief Horace Frank announced Tuesday.

The program, which is led by the police department’s Mental Evaluation Unit, launched on Monday, Frank told the Police Commission.

The unit’s Systemwide Mental Assessment Response Team (SMART), consisting of a mental health clinician and sworn officer, will respond to mental health calls that meet specific criteria, according to Frank. Previously, SMART units were used as secondary responders, but will now serve as co-responders with patrol units for certain calls.

“One of the benefits of this to officers is that it allows us to begin that de-escalation process as quickly as possible,” he said.

The SMART unit will serve as “a supporting element,” while the patrol unit will remain the primary unit, according to Frank.

Further details about the program were not immediately available, but Office Drake Madison said the department is planning to hold a news conference to provide more information.

In addressing the Police Commission, Frank also said the police department’s other mental health initiative, a pilot program to have psychiatric professionals from Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services respond to some identified mental health calls, briefly began last week but was halted after department officials realized a contract had not been signed. That’s expected to happen this week, he said.

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