Palo Alto launches psychiatric emergency response team

Bay Area

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KRON) — The City of Palo Alto announced Friday it has launched a new Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) in partnership with Santa Clara County to support individuals in mental health crisis.

The county partnership pairs Palo Alto Police Department officers with a licensed medical health clinician to provide rapid intervention to support individuals in a mental health crisis.

 “This long-anticipated program seeks to provide extra support and resources to help those in need of urgent assistance,” said Tom DuBois, Palo Alto mayor.

“Thanks to Santa Clara County leadership in shepherding this program through and the Palo Alto Police Department for the vision and commitment to see this team come to reality for the Palo Alto community.”

A team comprised of a police officer and a licensed mental health clinician from the County’s Behavioral Health Services Department will work together when a call comes in about an individual in a mental health crisis before the situation worsens or requires hospitalization.

The City says the team will self-respond to appropriate calls throughout their shift and can also be summoned by a police supervisor.

“The Palo Alto Police Department has been a strong proponent for a program like this and we are thrilled to launch this valuable program in partnership with Santa Clara County,” said Chief Robert Jonsen of the Palo Alto Police Department.  

“I firmly believe programs like this are going to become part of all police agencies in the future, supporting people in acute mental health crises in getting the help they need.”

PERT will serve as the police department’s main point of contact for long-term and ongoing concerns with the City’s unhoused population.

The team will also conduct follow-up visits on past clients as necessary and will accept referrals from other law enforcement employees who encounter someone who needs help.

“These teams add an important element to the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department’s crisis response system,” said Sherri Terao, Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Services Department director.

“Mental health crisis response services are a vital part of any mental health service system. We are proud to partner and expand the PERT program to the City of Palo Alto to help people access the services they need, when and where they are needed.”

The City says its police department is the second law enforcement agency and first city in the County to launch a PERT team.

Earlier this year, the County Sheriff’s Office became the first — and is now deploying two PERT teams.

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