The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently voted to expand the department’s Mental Evaluation Teams so they can respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The LA County Sheriff was the first SoCal law enforcement agency to create such teams, and with this new plan will add 25 staff members and $4.7 million in funding in order to double the number of Mental Evaluation Teams from 10 to 23 and create a “triage help desk” for residents to call during a psychological crisis.
The teams pair deputies with mental health clinicians and respond to calls that require special handling of mentally ill people who are threatening others or being disruptive. The goal is to reduce the use of jail as a de facto mental health treatment facility and send those in need to psychological services rather than custody. Ideally law enforcement contact with individuals with mental illness will then result in connection with treatment rather than cycling in and out of the criminal justice system.