Despite running on a campaign of how he would improve the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s handling of mentally ill persons and avoid uses of force in response to such calls, Sheriff Jim McDonnell hasn’t done much in the three years he’s been in office, reports Witness LA.
Any deputy could have told you 4-5 years ago at least that what needed to occur was a significant increase in mental crisis response units (known as Mental Health Evaluation or SAM 918 units) operating 24/7 and at a station or even city level. The teams only do any good if they arrive roughly when regular patrol units do; otherwise, patrol handles the calls, gets into whatever force they get involved in, and simply hands it off to the MET team for processing the deputy could just as easily do themselves (but would rather not). The current system has allowed the Department to appear they are using MET teams to reduce uses of force, when in reality they mostly act as cab drivers.
But little has been done, prompting the new civilian oversight commission to get involved.