Wednesday, June 28, 2017
[Contra Costa County] Grand jury: Only 30 percent of Contra Costa cops trained in mental crisis intervention
MARTINEZ — Grand jurors who reviewed law enforcement practices here praised a countywide mental health evaluation team, but also say less than a third of police officers in Contra Costa have taken crisis intervention training that has been found to reduce officer-involved injuries and deaths.
According to a Contra Costa grand jury report released in mid-June, roughly 30 percent of officers in the county have taken crisis intervention team training, a 32-hour course that instructs how to recognize someone who is suffering from a mental illness and resolve standoffs in a nonviolent way. Grand jurors recommended expanding the training to all officers in the county as soon as possible.
But the news isn’t all bad. The panel found that regional mental health evaluation teams created by Concord, Pittsburg, and Richmond police departments have been making headway in reducing violence confrontations since their inception in 2015. The grand-funded programs pair a police officer and behavioral health clinician, and has led to 223 people being referred to mental health services. Of those, 61 percent have not had a follow-up incident with police.
The grand jury report focused on the expansion of mental health services and the policies in place for dealing with officer-involved shootings and fatalities. Grand jurors mostly gave out positive marks for the county’s system of dealing with officer-involved deaths, which are inspected by district attorney investigators and then referred to jurors, who are asked to decide a manner of death in a public hearing.
Grand jurors surveyed all 24 law enforcement agencies that operate in Contra Costa, and said the police chiefs association has plans to expand crisis intervention training. Jurors focused their recommendations on the Sheriff’s office, which is in the process of crafting a required written response.
The panel recommended the sheriff expand crisis intervention training to all officers, come up with a way of tracking which officers have or haven’t taken it, and establish its own mental health evaluation team.
The sheriff’s office has publicly spoken of the need for expanded mental health services in its pitch for a new jail. Earlier this month, county supervisors approved a $70 million jail expansion plan for West Contra Costa that includes some improvements to mental health care for inmates.
June 27, 2017
East Bay Times
By Nate Gartrell