Co-Response Teams Making a Difference in Goleta

We are thrilled to highlight the partnership the City of Goleta has with the County’s Law Enforcement & Mental Health Co-Response program (COR) operated by the Sheriff’s Office and Behavioral Wellness. The mission of this program is to work with persons with mental health and substance abuse problems that are intersecting with the criminal justice system with the intent of de-escalating crises and diverting persons from the criminal justice system and into treatment. 

The City of Goleta was instrumental in seeing the COR program get off the ground. In early 2019 the Sheriff’s Behavioral Sciences Unit, managed by Dr. Cherylynn Lee, and the City of Goleta co-authored a grant that funded two full time COR teams. These teams have been working within the city since February 2020 and we are excited to share with you some of the outcomes related to their work.

According to data from the Sheriff’s Office, on any given month, approximately 25-35% of all mental health crises calls occur within the Goleta area. Mental health crisis calls include: persons whom are suicidal; persons who are experiencing psychosis; persons whom are under the influence of substances and having psychiatric and behavioral problems; and persons whom are committing crimes and the underlying driver of those behaviors are mental illness. These calls can be complex and often require time and resources beyond what patrol deputies can provide. Having COR teams allows for patrol deputies to be released from these mental health calls quicker and be put back in service to handle crimes and incidents occurring within the city.  

In the year 2020, Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Deputies handled approximately 3,000 mental health crisis calls. Of those 3,000 calls, approximately 1,600 were handled by a COR team. Out of the 1,600 calls handled by a COR team, 11 persons went to jail. The expertise the COR teams have are of immense value to our neighbors who suffer from mental illness. The COR teams receive specialized training and are able to navigate complicated mental health systems to get the person in crisis to the right resource at the right time.  

To see the teams at work, check out this newly released video.

The Sheriff’s Office will be presenting additional information to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors (BOS) during an upcoming meeting this October or November. We encourage the public to watch for this presentation, titled “Sheriff’s and Behavioral Wellness’ County Co-Response 2020 Quantitative and Qualitative Data and Outcomes Review” on the BOS agenda and participate in public comment as the County plans for the future of this program after the grant funding expires in late 2022. You can find agendas for upcoming BOS meetings on the County Board of Supervisor’s website: CountyofSB.org/BOS.

For more info, please visit the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office YouTube channel, SBSheriffs, where you can meet the Co-Response teams and learn more about this valuable, collaborative approach to mental health and co-occurring substance use disorder crises in Santa Barbara County. You can find even more information about the Co-Response program as well as the Sheriff’s Office Behavioral Science Unit at SBSheriff.org.

Co-Response Team Clinician Marisol and Deputy Plett at work in Goleta

Dr. Cherylynn Lee, Sheriff’s Behavioral Sciences Unit