Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $350,000)
Enhanced Crisis Intervention Training (ECIT) is a program educating first responders of all CA jurisdictions to respond to psychiatric emergency situations. ECIT, an advanced course developed by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT), focuses on reducing volatility of high frequency mental health contacts; reduces use of force and decreases recidivism and hospitalizations. Recent changes in the legislature, court rulings, and a greater understanding of the impact of mental health challenges on our community have shown the need for a more advanced, structured training. In 2019, ECIT was created in response to this need. ECIT is certified by California Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST), and is the only such certified training in the State of California.
Recognition, de-escalation and effective/positive non-violent outcome of potential psychiatric emergencies is in the interest of all individuals. ECIT seeks a positive outcome to all mental health contacts, with a focus on every person’s individual circumstances. ECIT provides peace officers with an operational, focused training program that examines current best practices when responding to mental health crisis situations. This course defines de-escalation and teaches how to evaluate whether de-escalation is possible or appropriate. ECIT examines non-criminal barricade response and when to consider disengagement as a de-escalation tactic. The concepts of slowing down when practical and creating time and distance are emphasized to reduce situational intensity and increase voluntary compliance. Adopting an organized, teamwork approach to crisis situations is taught, to help promote just, positive outcomes.
Since our several ECIT classes held to date, there have been multiple incidents resolved safely by our agency with no use of force. Without ECIT training, these types of incidents very well may have ended differently. This is encouraging evidence of the value of ECIT. Further, a similar course in Portland, OR returned the following impressive results: 26% decrease in police contacts; 23% decrease in arrests; 46% decrease in police mandatory psychiatric holds & subsequent psychiatric hospital visits. Collaboration with other county and local resources for positive crisis management is taught. Relevant liability laws, “special relationship doctrine” and the “public duty doctrine” are discussed.
ECIT benefits everyone by promoting stronger mental health for our communities, while more efficiently allocating public resources. ECIT enjoys strong, diverse community support, including but not limited to County of San Mateo Board of Supervisors' Dave Pine, City of San Carlos Mayor (former: Laura Parmer-Lohan & current: Sara McDowell), the City of Santa Clara Police Department, the County of Santa Clara Sheriff's Office, the City of Foster City Police Department, the City of Belmont Police Department, and Behavioral Health & Recovery Services of San Mateo County. Receiving the $350,000 in congressionally directed spending will help San Mateo County Sheriff's Sergeants, Deputies and Correctional Officers attend ECIT and pave the way for almost 80,000 sworn peace officers throughout California to do the same.