The Cities of Chula Vista and National City are working with the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency to expand a Mobile Crisis Response Team to the South Bay. A pilot program for the MCRT has operated in the coastal North County since January.
“We are always listening. We are always interested,” said Chula Vista Police Captain Phil Collum.
CVPD is in the very early stages of discussions with the County’s HHSA, according to Collum, but he said he is optimistic about the opportunity.
The MCRT is a 911-style system that dispatches a team of three mental health care professionals to respond to someone in a mental health crisis. Ordinarily, it's the who respond, according to Collum. He said CVPD responds to roughly 2,500 mental health calls every year.
“That’s a lot of law enforcement resources,” Collum said. “Many of these calls, maybe there’s other types of services that can be better directed to help those people in need.”
Collum said an MCRT could potentially free up police and give faster, more expert assistance to a community member.
“I think there’s a potential win-win benefit to a program like this,” he said.
“Being able to just look at mental health and what’s needed to help clients is so important,” said Rosy Vasquez, the Executive Director for Community Through Hope. The nonprofit provides hundreds of thousands of meals every year for the homeless and people with food insecurities. She estimated half of their clients suffer from some sort of mental health issue.
“To see that statistic grow in our community, I think is just tragic,” Vasquez said.
She praised the idea of cities and agencies working together to improve the lives of people.
“I do think this is the beginning of something that’s really going to have a huge impact in our community,” she said.
“Chula Vista is always looking for better ways to serve its community and this is certainly one we think has a huge potential,” added Collum.
He reiterated the city and HHSA are still early on in discussions and they haven’t begun discussing exactly how the program would work in the South Bay.