Antioch Council votes to pursue mental health response team to respond to crises instead of sending police

Antioch City Council members and staff participate in the regular meeting on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. Video screenshot.

Leaves open option to be pilot city for county’s new program

“Deep down in my heart I think Mr. Quinto would still be with us if we had something like this in our community,” Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson.

By Allen Payton

A request for proposal (RFP) to hire a consultant to design a model for a mental health crisis response team, to be sent out on certain calls instead of police officers, was approved on a 5-0 vote by the Antioch City Council during their meeting on Tuesday night, March 23, 2021. It’s part of the mayor’s police reform proposals at the urging of Mayor Pro Tem and District 4 Councilwoman Monica Monica Wilson.

All the public comments were in favor of the city pursuing a team.

“I did have a conversation with someone, today. It was in the context of the CAHOOTS model,” said District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker. “I want to say I agree with a process that includes residents who have lived an experience. I’d also like to consider that we have something that is specific to our city, but how we also draw down resources from the county. Some kind of way the CORE program is involved. But not enough. So, we need to do something. If we’re asking for oversight and transparency of the police department, we wouldn’t move forward on a process that doesn’t include that for a mental health response program.”

“I haven’t seen a mental health response program that doesn’t include a police involvement…that they at some point they don’t call law enforcement in,” Torres-Walker stated. “We have to decide what those triggers are. There are some things that our law enforcement department should not respond to.”

“One of the things I didn’t like about the county model, it just focuses on mental health,” she continued. “A person could use substances for so long that they develop mental health issues or have mental issues that they use.”

“There are some models where you can work with fire…which we do not have in this city which is unfortunate,” Torres-Walker added.

“This has been a long-time coming,” Wilson said. “With mental health in particular with deregulation and funding being taken away…and now, all they can call is our police department. Yes, CAHOOTS is the first organization I reached out to in pursuit of multiple models. Definitely I want something that’s going to be 24 hours that deals with mental health and drug addiction.”

“Yes, I believe the community should be involved in the input into what is unique to the City of Antioch,” she continued. “I would just really like the city manager to move forward to prepare an RFP so we can work with a consultant. I’m definitely very excited.”

“Deep down in my heart I think Mr. Quinto would still be with us if we had something like this in our community,” Wilson concluded.

“I definitely support some kind of response team…someone with the training who can step in,” District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica stated. “My only concern is we’re hiring another consultant on the eve of the county program being implemented in 90 days…and they’re looking for a pilot city. I’d love to be the pilot city.”

“I’m not sure about hiring a consultant…who would go outside and look for a resource,” District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock said. “A 5150 or a 5185 they’re going to have to go to county. I think that because of the county’s program coming up in a short period of time, we could throw our hat in…we are the second largest city in the county.”

“Concord is doing a 2-11 CORE team…with the county, something like a mental health crisis team,” she continued. “If we want to jump in and get something started…we can work to be the trial city.”

“As we learned from homeless, we’re better off designing our own,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe said. “I heard nothing but county. I think their process is going to be much longer.”

“I also want to look at the cost. The CAHOOTS model is $2 million,” Ogorchock said. “I don’t think the county would have that same issue.”

“A vote on this isn’t saying we don’t want a program, it’s just saying we want a consultant?” Barbanica asked.

“I think it would bring in some estimates,” Thorpe responded.

“So, if we say yes to getting a consultant, it’s going to take a while,” Ogorchock said. “I would ask that we not stop pursuing the county option.”

“It could be both, and. The county is supposed to provide these services to our community, anyways,” Torres-Walker said. “I do think it could be a both, and, and we should discuss what that would look like.”

“I don’t want us to have amnesia. The reason we’re talking about providing homeless services, is because the county is not providing it,” Thorpe said. “I see the limited staff that they have…there is no infrastructure out here.”

“Going this route does not eliminate the county,” Wilson stated.

“When we’re under resourcing it’s a recipe for disaster,” Thorpe said.

“I’m glad that Mayor Pro Tem Wilson and Councilwoman Torres-Walker agree that we can do both,” Ogorchock said.

The motion by Torres-Walker, seconded by Wilson to direct staff to develop a request for proposal to hire a consultant to develop a plan for a crisis response team passed on a 5-0 vote.

 

 

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