Pleasanton considers embedding mental health crisis team with police

After deciding last week to push the item back to its next meeting, the Pleasanton City Council will again consider embedding a mental health crisis response team into the Police Department's newly created Alternative Response Unit, to reduce uniformed officers' response to mental health incidents and the unhoused.   

The council will decide Tuesday whether to move forward with the two-year pilot program, at a cost of $844,462.     

The program would allow licensed mental health clinicians to respond to non-urgent requests for service that don't pose an immediate public safety threat. 

Another option would be to send a clinician accompanied by a police officer with specialized training to situations in which police might be necessary.     

This option would provide two full-time clinicians and one part-time temporary program assistant. 

The move comes in response to the national movement for police reform. 

The city hosted has hosted listening sessions at which residents expressed a desire for better response to mental health crises.     

The staff report for Tuesday's meeting mentions other municipalities trying the same approach, including San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Houston, and Sacramento County. 

It cited a long-term example of a successful program in Eugene, Oregon, in which a clinician is paired with a plainclothes police officer on mental health calls. 

Santa Clara County is currently doing a similar pilot program.   If approved, the program would begin in January. 

The Pleasanton City Council meets virtually at 7 p.m. Tuesday.