A Closer Look at the LASD Mental Evaluation Team, in Recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department personnel have been working closely with Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) staff to support the wellbeing of Los Angeles County residents. The pandemic triggered different facets of mental health in many, like depression, fear, anxiety, frustration, and panic, and we want to let you know we are here to help. We are here for you.
With mental illness also a crisis in our population, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) has a long-standing tradition of groundbreaking programs to approach it. In November,1993, ours was the first law enforcement agency to collaborate with LACDMH and formed a full-time Mental Evaluation Team (MET). Since the inception of its first five teams, the MET concept of co-response has grown into a 27-team configuration; they operate around the clock and the team is expanding every year.
Our MET teams provide crisis assessment, intervention and targeted case management services. They diffuse potentially violent situations, prepare appropriate documentation to assist in the placement of persons with mental illness in acute inpatient psychiatric facilities, and link these individuals to outpatient mental health services or appropriate community resources. The goal of this co-response model is to reduce the number of incidents in which force is used, reduce the number of hospitalizations and avoid unnecessary incarcerations of severely mentally ill citizens.
Despite the current circumstances, MET staff are delivering the same level of outstanding service, as in the past. They continue to seek and innovate creative mental health programs for the betterment of the communities we serve. In addition to responding to calls for service, they provide mental health and de-escalation training for other law enforcement agencies. They look forward to starting an intake booking diversion program, aimed at reducing our jail population, and strengthening our mental health programs for military veterans. MET staff work regularly with experts from the Veterans Administration and aided in creating a Veterans Mental Evaluation Team component (VMET) at the Long Beach Veterans Administration facility.
Los Angeles County is expanding two innovative programs: The first, to help stop those facing mental health challenges from going to jail and get them the treatment they need, instead; the second, by dispatching the Countywide Benefits Entitlement Services Team, to connect those experiencing homelessness with available services.
In 2018, the MET triage desk began helping patrol deputies in the field on a full-time basis; they held consultations and provided mental health resources to help divert patients away from incarceration when mental evaluation teams were unable to respond. The triage desk centrally dispatches and helps expedite responses of MET units, to support patrol deputies responding to mental health crises countywide.
Another responsibility of MET is acting as lead agency of the Project Lifesaver Tracker program, which involves 82 other law enforcement agencies in the Los Angeles County area. Project Lifesaver is a system in which a device similar to a wristwatch is worn by persons with disabilities, such as dementia and autism; the device can be tracked if the wearer leaves their residence, leading to a quicker location of the lost party.
Over the last few years, MET has grown rapidly and provided periodic updates to Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ Justice Deputies, the Civilian Oversight Commission, and the Office of Diversion and Re-entry.
If you are looking for mental health information or resources, visit the LASDMET Twitter page at @LASDMET and the Los Angeles County Mental Health Department website which provides materials and resources for you.
Visit the link: https://dmh.lacounty.gov/covid-19-information/