OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — A compassionate-care, first response program is hitting the streets of Oakland after years in the making.

The Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland or MACRO launched its pilot phase back on April 9, 2022.

Since then, these 10-initial staffers have been busy introducing themselves to Oakland residents and reacting to several non-violent, non-emergency situations in the process MACRO program manager Elliot Jones says.

“A MACRO crew is made of emergency medical tech and a community intervention specialist,” Jones said. “Some of the call determinants that we worked out with PD would be non-aggressive panhandling, disorderly juvenile, disturbance drinkers, if you’re having a mental health concern, if you can call us at the onset, it gives us the best opportunity to deescalate.”

The timing couldn’t be better says the president of the Oakland police officers’ association, Barry Donelan. He says Oakland Police Department is averaging more than 2,000 calls for service a day.

“I just checked before I came on – there’s 161 calls standing city-wide right now for a police officer,” Donelan said. “We’re not taking any police reports. We absolutely appreciate what I view is another tool to try and mitigate the staggering number of calls the police department gets.”

MACRO team members must undergo several weeks of classroom training at the Oakland Fire Department, followed by ongoing training in the field as the program develops. Jones anticipates eventually during the pilot there will be 24 to 36 staffers, working eight hours day shifts, five days a week.

“We want to be that first response,” Donelan said. “If a subsequent response is required, that’s okay. But allow MACRO to get there first. The fact that we have crews in the street that are available to start responding to these is a success measure.”