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Pleasanton considers embedding mental health specialists with police responders

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The two-year program would embed a mental health crisis response team into the Pleasanton Police Department’s new Alternative Response Unit. It would allow licensed mental health clinicians to respond to non-urgent requests for assistance that don’t pose an immediate threat to public safety.

The team would be staffed by two full-time clinicians and a part-time temporary assistant. One option would be for the team to respond to a call for service, or be embedded with a police officer with specialized training in situations in which police might be necessary.

According to a report to the council, the Pleasanton Weekly reported that police place about 350 individuals a year, who are considered a danger to themselves, in 72-hour psychiatric detention.

Santa Clara County has adopted a similar pilot program, pairing a plainclothes officer with a clinician on mental health crisis calls. Other cities, including San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim, as well as Sacramento County, have adopted similar approaches.

If approved, the two-year Pleasanton program would cost about 840,000 dollars.