LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, June 23, passed a motion by Supervisor Janice Hahn aimed at improving the public’s access to alternative crisis response teams when armed law enforcement may not be appropriate.
“We are asking our law enforcement officers to take on too many challenges that they are not necessarily trained for whether that be mental health crises, homelessness, or substance abuse,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “There are situations where an unarmed trained professional would be a more appropriate response in a crisis than a law enforcement officer and we need to make sure LA County residents can call these expert teams when they need help.”
While there are instances when law enforcement officers are the most appropriate response to a call for help, there are also many scenarios when they are not. For example, calls for health and human services crises related to mental health, substance abuse, physical health, or homelessness would be better served in most cases by a non-law enforcement response team with appropriate training and expertise. These would include the County’s Psychiatric Mobile Response Team (PMRT) or the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Emergency Outreach Team. When people call for help during a crisis, they often call 911 and receive a law enforcement response that could be ineffective at best and harmful at worst.
In March, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisors Hahn and Barger to have a Human Services Crisis Response Coordination Steering Committee, composed of various health, fire, and law enforcement agencies to advise the Department of Mental Health on the development, expansion, coordination, and utilization of health and human services crisis response resources throughout Los Angeles County.
Hahn’s motion instructs the Human Services Crisis Response Coordination Steering Committee to report back to the board in three months on the feasibility of:
- Establishing a unique number for non-law enforcement health and human services crisis responses;
- Reconfiguring 911 to more effectively triage calls involving health and human services crises to non-law enforcement first responders by default.