Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was joined by city and county leaders on Oct. 26 to announce the creation of the Therapeutic Transportation Pilot, a new model for unarmed crisis response that will dispatch mental health workers to some 911 calls for emergency assistance with nonviolent situations.
“Reform moves faster when you lead with purpose and embrace partnerships that move the needle,” Garcetti said. “Reimagining public safety means taking bold steps forward to make everyone safe and secure. The Therapeutic Transportation Pilot can become a model for communities everywhere that want to meet this moment by making meaningful change.”
The pilot project, set to launch in early 2021, will remove armed response from situations that do not require it by dispatching mental health experts to respond to certain 911 emergency calls that might otherwise be routed to local law enforcement agencies. The program, which will be examined for one year with an aim to expand to other cities across L.A. County, will embed teams of mental health professionals in five Los Angeles Fire Department stations. They will respond and attempt to de-escalate emergency mental health calls 24 hours. Individuals in crisis will be transported to a location where they can be stabilized in a therapeutic van designed to meet their needs and accompanied by clinicians who can provide support and access to mental health care.
“This is another step forward in Los Angeles County’s efforts to vastly improve treatment for those experiencing a mental health crisis in a more thoughtful and effective way,” said L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, 5th District. “As a long-time advocate for more accessible and effective treatment, it is an honor to be a part of this program and partner with the city of Los Angeles to enhance mental health services for those in crisis.”
“Too often, when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, this individual is met by an armed public safety response, which can escalate the situation by increasing the individual’s stress and anxiety,” said Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Director Jonathan E. Sherin. “This approach can be counterproductive to helping stabilize the individual experiencing the emergency. This expansion of L.A. County’s Therapeutic Transportation Program in partnership with L.A. City Fire will further help individuals experiencing these mental health emergencies get the support and care they need in a time of crisis.”
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