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Monterey County Civil Grand Jury draws back the curtain on ways local law enforcement can improve mental health responses

SALINAS, Calif. (KION) - A recent report from the Monterey County Civil Grand Jury found more ways law enforcement agencies and mental health services could better help people dealing with mental health.

The report showed that 15-37 percent of calls involve a mental health crisis in Monterey County.

A recent report from the Monterey County grand jury drew back the curtain on ways local law enforcement could better respond to mental health calls with proper training.

The report focuses on the two largest agencies in the county, Salinas Police and the Monterey County Sheriff's Office.

"90% of our officers are CIT trained," Salinas Police Acting Chief John Murray said. "That remaining 10% usually involves new officers coming on board."

The report says smaller jurisdictions like Greenfield Police Department may find it difficult. Greenfield Police Chief Bill Mixer says mental health crisis intervention training is still possible.

"What we started doing two years ago was while our officers," said Mixer. "Our new officers, were in their initial training with our department, we would send them to sit for the week-long program, and then they would come back and we continue the training,"

Some recommendations include more public awareness about the mobile crisis team the county offers.

"We just felt like something of such value to our community should just be blasted everywhere," said Christine Lerable who served as a Juror for the 2023-2024 Civil Grand Jury.

It also calls for Salinas Police and the Monterey County Sheriff's Office to make their standards and policies available for the public to see.

Most of the deadlines for the recommendations are by June or July.

"It's actually something we've had in the works for a while," said Murray. "We're going to have no problem meeting that, that requirement,"

Last year the mobile crisis team was contacted 1,073 times, almost double from 2021.

"We have clinics in all the regions of the county. People can walk in and, ask for services and be screened for both mental health and substance use, service needs and then referred accordingly," said Melanie Rhodes who is for the Monterey County Behavioral Health Department.

The mobile crisis intervention team is available 24/7.

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Dania Romero

Dania Romero is an reporter at KION News Channel 46.


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