Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $279,367)
The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) and La Familia Counseling Services (La Familia) will collaborate to improve public safety responses and outcomes for individuals with mental health disorders or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders who encounter the justice system. Funding from the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program will support BART’s Police Department efforts to work with La Familia, a local nonprofit agency equipped to provide culturally sensitive and effective mental health, job readiness, job placement, and social services. The San Francisco Bay Area has become a national hotspot for homelessness and untreated mental illness. While there has been a historic level of investment at the state and local level to improve access to services and services themselves, significant work must be delivered for BART to meet current needs. Requested funding will allow for BART’s Police Department to expand current Crisis Intervention Services with support from licensed clinicians and experienced housing, social services, and workforce development staff from La Familia.
The BART Police Department was one of the first police departments to implement a Progressive Policing Bureau focusing on assistance rather than enforcement. The primary goal of the Bureau is to provide outreach, reduce calls for police services for non-criminal matters, reduce violent encounters between law enforcement and those who may be in crisis or suffering from a mental illness, and to improve the safety for everyone in the BART transit system. The Bureau utilizes a model that de-emphasizes the use of sworn personnel to response to homelessness, behavioral health, and substance use, among other issues that do not need an armed police response. The Bureau is committed to rebuilding trust in the communities BART serves, and to nurturing relationships between communities and law enforcement through a culture of accountability, responsibility, and collaboration. BART’s Police Department, through work lead by the Progressive Policing Bureau, is confident in the outcomes that the proposed partnership will yield to expand the provision of mental health services and wrap around services for the communities BART serves.