City Creating Emergency Response Pilot Program

City Creating Emergency Response Pilot Program

Part one

Police auditor, staff and support services also in budget

Two line items on the city’s 2021-22 budget signal that the city will indeed change how the Alameda Police Department (APD) responds to calls for service.

The first reads: “Mental Health Response Pilot Program and the second “NEW: Police Auditor, Support Services, Staffing.”

If the budget is approved, the city will be spending $1 million a year to implement the pilot program and $300,000 a year for the police auditor, support service and staff.
City Council has instructed City Manager Eric Levitt to present this pilot program at its Tuesday, June 15 meeting.

The cities of Oakland and San Francisco have a head start on Alameda. They have been drawing up plans that Levitt and his staff might look to for ideas on how to craft one for Alameda.

In 2016, President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) formed the Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommending reforms in five areas: use of force, bias, community policing, accountability and recruitment, hiring and personnel reforms (14 findings and 32 recommendations).

The City and County of San Francisco responded to Obama’s DOJ report with a program called the Collaborative Reform Initiative (CRI). Mayor London Breed has introduced plans for a Police Reform Roadmap that includes four priorities as part of CRI:
End the use of police in response to non-criminal activity
Address police bias and strengthen accountability
Demilitarize the police
Promote economic justice

CRI also involves the San Francisco Police Department, which has drawn up a Racial Equity and Inclusion Action Plan.

San Francisco also added a new way it answers crisis calls. National Public Radio (NPR) reported, in November 2020, San Francisco began dispatching “unarmed mobile teams comprised of paramedics, mental health professionals and peer support counselors.

Oakland is calling its plan MACRO, which stands for Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland. Oakland’s program is unique because it will use the fire department, rather than the police department, to respond to nonviolent, mental health calls. But the teams will be made up of civilians, not sworn firefighters.

NPR covered this new idea and stated that civilian teams would deescalate problems by connecting people involved in what it termed “crisis calls” to services that would not include a jail, a psychiatric ward or a hospital.

In the next installment the Alameda Sun will look at how the 31-year-old Crisis Assistance Helping out on the Streets (CAHOOTS program in Eugene Ore., and the recommendations of Alameda’s Police Reform and Equity Steering Committee might come into play with Levitt’s task.