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Thumbs up: In ‘CAHOOTS’ on crisis assistance

Editorials represent the views of The Press Democrat editorial board and The Press Democrat as an institution. The editorial board and the newsroom operate separately and independently of one another.

Sonoma County’s mobile support team, which accompanies law enforcement on crisis intervention calls involving mental health, was sent out 693 times in fiscal years 2018-19 and 2019-20. During that period, the team was available five days a week for eight hours a day, and in only about half of the county. The Board of Supervisors funded additional hours, days and territory beginning in the 2020-21 fiscal year. Now, four local cities — Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park and Cotati — plan to add crisis response teams of their own.

The idea, modeled on a program called CAHOOTS in Eugene, Oregon, is to provide emergency mental health services to people in need, allow law enforcement to focus on crime and, hopefully, avoid situations that escalate into the use of force.

A year ago, voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax to bolster emergency mental health services in Sonoma County. Supporters presented a variety of ideas, including expansion of the mobile support team model. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will consider allocating about $942,000 for pilot projects in Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Cotati-Rohnert Park. Among the objectives are to determine which approaches work best so they can be replicated across Sonoma County. Thumbs up.

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Editorials represent the views of The Press Democrat editorial board and The Press Democrat as an institution. The editorial board and the newsroom operate separately and independently of one another.

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