California Cities Experimenting With Civilian Responses To Mental Health Crisis Calls

from the fewer-chances-somone-will-be-helped-to-death-by-police-officers dept

More cities are adopting an approach to mental health emergency calls that steers calls away from police officers and towards professionals who are trained to respond to mental health crises with something other than force deployment.

Early results have shown promise in cities like Denver, Colorado and New York City, New York. These response teams are not only better suited to handling mental health calls, but they’re less expensive than sending cops and/or needlessly involving the carceral system. Law enforcement agencies command outsized portions of city budgets. Shifting small portions of these budgets to alternatives like these makes better use of these funds, providing residents with options that are far more effective — and cost effective — than the usual method of sending more expensive government employees to respond to problems they’re ill-equipped to handle.

A couple of cities in California are experimenting with mental health response teams. The teams in use in Sacramento and Oakland were formed by residents in response to the tragic killing of a young man suffering from schizoaffective disorder by police officers.

That day, Miles was having a schizoaffective episode at the family’s home in Walnut Creek, CA, a city a few miles east of Oakland.  

First Miles’ grandmother, and then Taun Hall herself, called 911. Hall wanted to get her son to a hospital where he could receive treatment. She felt her only option was to call the police.

But when the Walnut Creek police officers arrived, the situation escalated quickly.

“[The police officers] were shouting at him and, you know, doing commands,” Hall said. “Someone who is mentally impaired doesn’t respond, doesn’t understand, because they’re not in the same frame of mind.”

Miles Hall ran towards the officers, who first shot him with ‘less-lethal’ ammunition called bean bag rounds. When he continued running, two officers shot him with their handguns. Miles Hall was transported to John Muir Hospital, where he died from his injuries.

MH First Sacramento and MH First Oakland are both part of the same project. The MH stands for Miles Hall just as much as it stands for mental health. Both are offshoots of the Anti Police Terror Project, an advocacy group seeking to end the longstanding use of violence by police officers against people of color. Currently, both response teams are limited to running mental health hotlines on weekends only but both hope to expand on that with the recent COVID wave starting to recede in the state. They’re also hoping to secure more funding to expand their operations to offering response teams that can handle mental health calls requiring in-person assistance.

Residents of Oakland will soon have one more option for mental health calls that won’t involve law enforcement.

Now, a new pilot project has been funded by the city of Oakland to take even more of the workload off the shoulders of the police.

“A project called MACRO, Mobile Assistance Community Response of Oakland,” explained [Coalition for Police Accountability coordinator Rashidah] Grinage. “And what it does is it says that 911 calls that are not necessarily required to have a police response, namely their low-level calls, they are sometimes mental health crises, but there can be other kinds of incidents as well. Conflicts between neighbors, problems with somebody blocking a driveway, incidents where a police officer is not really a necessary responder, MACRO will provide civilian responses to these kinds of 911 calls for service.”

MACRO is based on the CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) program currently running in Eugene, Oregon. That program has achieved considerable success, not the least of which is the savings of over $6 million a year in public safety spending.

It’s too early to tell whether these programs will replicate the successes seen elsewhere. But it is clear more options like these are necessary if we want to keep more people alive. Police officers shouldn’t be expected to handle these situations well. They’re simply not trained to perform this sort of public assistance. Unfortunately, they’re the default option in most cases, which means officers responding to mental health calls will fall back on the training they have received, which mostly involves subduing people and responding to perceived threats — neither of which tends to work out well for people who are already struggling to maintain their grip on reality.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “California Cities Experimenting With Civilian Responses To Mental Health Crisis Calls”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment

Police officers shouldn’t be expected to handle these situations well. They’re simply not trained to perform this sort of public assistance

The fucking well should be trained in how to deal with people suffering from a mental health crisis or otherwise under stress, as those are people they are likely to called out to deal with.


Re: Re:

The program works for those where the call for help goes to the right place, but not when the cops stumble on something, or the call goes to them, because for example the help service is not available. Also this program does nothing to calm down overly aggressive cops who can make any situation worse.


Re: Re: Re:

"Also this program does nothing to calm down overly aggressive cops who can make any situation worse."

Even non-aggressive cops can be scary to people. Many people are afraid of cops because they have uniforms and guns. It isn’t only the attitude of the cops that can cause situations to escalate.


As medication becomes more accessible every day, there are several good solutions available to everyone of us. That is why I want to promote affordable ct scan, so that you can discover the greatest approach to identify reputable physicians that can treat your problem fast, effectively, and effortlessly. The most significant aspect is that it is incredibly easy to obtain.

Leave a Reply to Anonymous Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Older Stuff
13:40 It's Great That Winnie The Pooh Is In The Public Domain; But He Should Have Been Free In 1982 (Or Earlier) (35)
12:06 Norton 360 Now Comes With Crypto Mining Capabilities And Sketchy Removal Process (28)
10:45 Chinese Government Dragnet Now Folding In American Social Media Platforms To Silence Dissent (14)
10:40 Daily Deal: The 2022 Ultimate Cybersecurity Analyst Preparation Bundle (0)
09:29 A Fight Between Facebook And The British Medical Journal Highlights The Difficulty Of Moderating 'Medical Misinformation' (9)
06:29 Court Ruling Paves The Way For Better, More Reliable Wi-Fi (4)
20:12 Eighth Circuit (Again) Says There's Nothing Wrong With Detaining Innocent Minors At Gunpoint (15)
15:48 China's Regulatory War On Its Gaming Industry Racks Up 14k Casualties (10)
13:31 Chinese Government Fines Local Car Dealerships For Surveilling While Not Being The Government (5)
12:08 Eric Clapton Pretends To Regret The Decision To Sue Random German Woman Who Listed A Bootleg Of One Of His CDs On Ebay (29)
10:44 ICE Is So Toxic That The DHS's Investigative Wing Is Asking To Be Completely Separated From It (29)
10:39 Daily Deal: The 2022 Complete Raspberry Pi And Arduino Developer Bundle (0)
09:31 Google Blocked An Article About Police From The Intercept... Because The Title Included A Phrase That Was Also A Movie Title (24)
06:22 Wireless Carriers Balk At FAA Demand For 5G Deployment Delays Amid Shaky Safety Concerns (16)
19:53 Tenth Circuit Denies Qualified Immunity To Social Worker Who Fabricated A Mother's Confession Of Child Abuse (35)
15:39 Sci-Hub's Creator Thinks Academic Publishers, Not Her Site, Are The Real Threat To Science, And Says: 'Any Law Against Knowledge Is Fundamentally Unjust' (34)
13:32 Federal Court Tells Proud Boys Defendants That Raiding The Capitol Building Isn't Covered By The First Amendment (25)
12:14 US Courts Realizing They Have A Judge Alan Albright Sized Problem In Waco (17)
10:44 Boston Police Department Used Forfeiture Funds To Hide Purchase Of Surveillance Tech From City Reps (16)
10:39 Daily Deal: The Ultimate Microsoft Excel Training Bundle (0)
09:20 NY Senator Proposes Ridiculously Unconstitutional Social Media Law That Is The Mirror Opposite Of Equally Unconstitutional Laws In Florida & Texas (25)
06:12 Telecom Monopolies Are Exploiting Crappy U.S. Broadband Maps To Block Community Broadband Grant Requests (7)
12:00 Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of 2021 At Techdirt (17)
10:00 Gaming Like It's 1926: Join The Fourth Annual Public Domain Game Jam (6)
09:00 New Year's Message: The Arc Of The Moral Universe Is A Twisty Path (33)
19:39 DHS, ICE Begin Body Camera Pilot Program With Surprisingly Good Policies In Place (7)
15:29 Remembering Techdirt Contributors Sherwin And Elliot (1)
13:32 DC Metro PD's Powerful Review Panel Keeps Giving Bad Cops Their Jobs Back (6)
12:11 Missouri Governor Still Expects Journalists To Be Prosecuted For Showing How His Admin Leaked Teacher Social Security Numbers (39)
10:48 Oversight Board Overturning Instagram Takedown Of Ayahuasca Post Demonstrates The Impossibility Of Content Moderation (10)
More arrow
This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it