San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Saturday that the city’s second Street Crisis Response Team will launch Feb. 1. The team will handle mental health and addiction 911 calls in the Mission and the Castro neighborhoods and reduce police response to non-violent calls, Breed stated on Twitter.
The first Street Crisis Response Team started on Nov. 30, focusing on calls in the Tenderloin. Each team includes a community paramedic, a behavioral health clinician and a behavioral health peer specialist. The goal of the program is to provide an appropriate non-law enforcement response to behavioral health emergencies in San Francisco and divert individuals in crisis away from emergency rooms and criminal legal settings into behavioral health treatment.
“Our first team started operating at the end of last year,” Breed wrote. “In their first month, they responded to 79 calls for service that otherwise would have been handled by the police. Their average response time was 12 minutes.”
Breed posted examples of SCRT incidents, including a situation where the team joined police to address a person waving a bat on 11th Street. The team discovered the individual needed urgent medical care for high blood pressure, and the person eventually agreed to be taken to a health clinic. Another post described a barefoot person who was behaving erratically and seemed extremely intoxicated. SCRT was able to de-escalate the situation, offer services such as the alcohol sobering center, and take the individual to the hospital for injuries from a fall.
Breed said the plan is to ramp up to at least six teams by the end of March. The goal is enable the SCRT to operate citywide, seven days a week and up to 24 hours a day. The city expects that teams will be able to respond to approximately 17,000 calls for service per year, which is equivalent to the number of non-violent “mentally disturbed person” calls to which San Francisco police currently responds.
“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,” Breed wrote on Twitter. “We need to continue improving services and care, as well as strengthen our conservatorship laws.”