Psychological well being disaster response crew set to hit the streets in Could

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Mental health crisis response team set to hit the streets in May

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Mental health (Photo: stocksnapper, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A team of two law enforcement officers paired with one mental health clinician will hit the streets next month in an effort to more appropriately handle people who are at the breaking point, Redding Police Chief Bill Schueller told the Redding City Council at their meeting this week.

The pilot project is a first for Shasta County and is intended to calm tense situations, reduce the need for use of deadly force on the part of law enforcement officials and get mental health help to people who need it.

Last year, there were 900 law enforcement calls involving someone in a mental health crisis, or nearly three a day, Schueller said.

“This is a very needed program and service in our community,” said Council Member Kristen Schreder just before the council voted unanimously to approve the city’s first Crisis Intervention Response Team, which is being funded by the city of Redding and Shasta County.

Bill Schueller (Photo: City of Redding)

The three-member team will lead an effort to more appropriately handle people in crisis who are a danger to themselves or to others, Schueller told the council.

The intervention team includes a Redding police officer, a Shasta County Sheriff’s deputy and a licensed clinical social worker from the county. They will respond to police calls involving someone in a mental health crisis who has a weapon or is threatening violence.

The three professionals will receive specialized training to de-escalate encounters that are at risk of turning violent.

As part of the initiative, Round Mountain-based Hill Country Health and Wellness Center, a nonprofit that already operates a mobile mental health crisis service, will expand its hours to seven days a week from the current five days a week.

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The Crisis Intervention Response Team’s coverage area expands from Shasta Lake to Cottonwood and Happy Valley to part of eastern Shasta County.

Encounters with people at the breaking point who are not armed or violent will continue to be handled by Hill Country’s mobile mental health crisis service.

Mental health clinicians there will receive a police radio so the organization can respond to nonviolent calls in coordination with the crisis response team, Schueller told the council.

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Michele Chandler covers city government and housing issues for the Redding Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. Follow her on Twitter at @MChandler_RS, call her at 530-225-8344 or email her at michele.chandler@redding.com. Please support our entire newsroom’s commitment to public service journalism by subscribing today.

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