Following the launch of San Francisco's first non-police crisis response team in November, another unit of health care clinicians and medical professionals are expected to start addressing mental health and addiction emergency calls in the city come February 1.
In an effort to both deescalate non-violent incidents — among which include mental health emergencies and addiction 911 calls — and free up the city's police force, Mayor Breed announced on Twitter Saturday a second street crisis response team is expected to start handling certain 911 calls in the Mission District and the Castro next month.
Starting February 1, we're launching our second Street Crisis Response Team to handle mental health and addiction 911 calls in the Mission and the Castro.— London Breed (@LondonBreed) January 23, 2021
These teams reduce police responses to non-violent calls so they can focus on public safety. @RafaelMandelman @HillaryRonen pic.twitter.com/iX6CB37tLi
The first iteration of the pilot program from Mental Health SF launched last year and has since responded to at least 79 calls that would've otherwise been conducted by police; the average response time for each call was just twelve minutes.
"The types of calls that the team has responded to have varied, and often they've assisted law enforcement for a peaceful outcome," writes Breed. "And while it's certainly an improvement to have these teams responding to these types of calls, they are only one part of a larger system for how we treat mental health and addiction."
Last year saw a record-level of deaths from drug overdoses — triple the level of the city's COVID-19-related deaths — in San Francisco. Fentanyl continues to be a growing problem here in the Bay Area, coinciding with rising rates of poverty and hunger.
"We need to continue improving services and care, as well as strengthen our conservatorship laws," Breed adds.
By the end of March, San Francisco hopes to have six active teams in operation responding to non-emergency calls throughout the city; each team will operate seven days a week — though will only be out Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
As we reported prior: the approval of a business tax this past November and windfall funds from 2018’s Prop. C "homeless tax" helped see the program to fruition.
Image: Courtesy of Twitter via @LondonBreed