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WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — While many cities are still studying proposals to revamp the way their police departments handle calls that benefit from de-escalation and crisis intervention, West Sacramento has started the hiring process for its community outreach team.

“We’re at our best when we act first and then learn,” Mayor Christopher Cabaldon said.

The decision has led to a lot of heat from activists who say it falls short of defunding police in favor of separate crisis-intervention programs.

Instead, the new team will be part of the West Sacramento Police Department. That was purposeful because a mental health, domestic violence, drug use or family conflict call can involve weapons and the threat of violence.

“They are both things often and we rarely know in advance what it’s going to be,” Cabaldon said. “So we have to have a tightly organized team that draws from both of those disciplines.”

But creating the team will mean fewer sworn officers will be hired. Cabaldon argued the goals of intervention and policing are often the same.

“It’s that blend of social work, mental health, conflict resolution professionals working in tandem with officers as equal peers,” he said. “We’re not hiring sidekicks here. We’re not hiring a support unit.”

The police union and law enforcement community would rather the city hire more sworn officers, but Cabaldon said they also accept the new direction to some degree.

“They recognize that it both reduces the pressure on them to do a job they were not trained for, but that it’s a more effective way to assure public safety for all,” Cabaldon said.