(KTXL) — A pilot program that would send mental health workers to deal with non-violent emergency calls instead of law enforcement in Sacramento County will have to wait as officials need more information about costs.
“We want to be able to inform the model they are creating,” said Asantewaa Boykin, a program director with Mental Health First. “We operate over the weekend Friday, Saturday and Sunday overnight, which is the time we identify that has the least amount of services available for people.”
She and others are backing another way the county can address the response to mental health crises.
“There is still a huge number of calls that don’t require law enforcement and those are the ones that this program focuses on,” said Sacramento County Supervisor Patrick Kennedy.
The county is considering alternatives to police for mental health crisis calls. The proposed program asked for 16 mental health professionals responding to calls Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. countywide.
A new three-digit emergency number that is independent from 911 and it would cost $1.6 million.
“I don’t believe that law enforcement is the answer. We have heard from many members of law enforcement that agree that law enforcement is not the answer when it comes to dealing with a mental health crisis,” Kennedy said.
But supporters of the program like Boykin asked county leaders to make it 24/7 and not invest $1.6 million but instead $15 million.
“That number is appropriate to run a scale program that can reach and serve the entire Sacramento County,” Boykin said.
A decision won’t be made until next month. Leaders are hoping to get a better understanding of how much it would cost to fund the program seven days a week for eight, 16 and 24 hours a day.