Officer and clinician will team up on mental health calls

Daily Post Staff Writer

A Palo Alto police officer and a mental health clinician will team up to respond to mental health crises and ongoing issues with the homeless starting this coming week.

The Psychiatric Emergency Response Team is the third in Santa Clara County; the Sheriff’s Office has two teams and more are in the works.

San Mateo County is also sending mental health clinicians to work with officers in four cities, including Redwood City and San Mateo, starting on Monday (Dec. 6).

The Palo Alto team will work between noon and 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, city spokeswoman Meghan Horrigan-Taylor said.

When the team is not on duty, other officers can make a referral so the team can follow up.

Officer Daniel Cuevas is assigned to the team. He has completed crisis-intervention training and proven he can compassionately work with people who have mental illness, Horrigan-Taylor said in an email.

The team will work out of an unmarked police car, and Cuevas will wear a plain-clothes uniform.

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

Supervisor Joe Simitian will help move folks toward mental health services rather than the criminal justice system.

“I believe this city-county partnership will reduce the potential for tragedy and help save lives,” he said.