la city council
LA City Council Meeting - Photo courtesy of LACC livestream

The City Council called on its staff Tuesday to develop a report on the annual volume of mental health and domestic violence calls in city, with eye toward possibly expanding its Mental Evaluation Unit and Domestic Abuse Response Team to respond to such calls rather than police.

Council members Eunisses Hernandez, Curren Price and Traci Park co-authored the motion, which gives the City Administrative Office, Chief Legislative Analyst and the Los Angeles Police Department 30 days to report back. They asked that the report include current capacity and response times of the MEU and DART, a discussion of how the teams have grown since inception, and an outline of any shortfall in resources that prevents the deployment of the teams to qualifying incidents.

City staff were also directed to return with a budget proposal in 30 days for possible expansion of the MEU and DART to support more personnel, along with potential financial resources and deployment procedures needed to make the programs more widely available in response to mental health emergencies.

According to the motion, a mental health or domestic violence call is not guaranteed to receive a response from the specialized units, with responses dependent on resource availability. LAPD recently reported tht only one-third of mental health calls receive MEU deployment, according to the document.

City staff were also asked to compare six criteria from a “traditional” LAPD response, a specialized LAPD response such as that of the MEU or DART teams, and from alternative response programs like Denver’s Support Team Assisted Response program and the city of Petaluma’s Specialized Assistance for Everyone program.

The comparison will include average and median response times; costs per team; level and types of training; percentage of deployments that result in handcuffing, citation, arrest or use of force; percentage of deployments where issues are resolved in the field; and the percentage of deployments where a connection to a service provider is made.

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