California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris on Thursday honored the Burbank Police Department’s mental health evaluation team, calling the program a “smart” model that has helped free up resources within the city and countywide.
Burbank was one of six local law enforcement agencies that received an Attorney General Award.
When established roughly a year ago, the Burbank police mental health evaluation team was tasked with responding to an uptick in mental health calls citywide, which had jumped from 293 calls in 2008 to 567 last year.
“Officers would triage such incidents, but there was no structure to provide follow-up or long-term care,” Harris said at the ceremony in downtown L.A. Thursday. “This team provides that missing piece.”
The goal of the program was to go beyond responding to incidents and making arrests by teaming up with mental health professionals to offer long-term care, including case management for individuals struggling with chronic mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness and criminal history.
“In just over a year, they have made a huge difference in Burbank,” Harris said.
Officials pointed to several instances where the team’s efforts led to rehabilitation, including an incident in which the team counseled a group of students out of a suicide pact.
The mental health evaluation team consists of Los Angeles County clinical social worker Dr. Jennifer Hunt, Burbank Police Sgt. Mike Parrinello, and officers Adam Adler, Scott Moody and Kristiana Sanchez.
“It’s a big deal to have the state recognize the efforts of this program,” said Burbank Police Capt. Mike Albanese. “A lot of behind the scenes work has come to fruition.”
-- Alene Tchekmedyian, firstname.lastname@example.org