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Office of Community Response is a Juggling Act: Sacramento’s Got Talent?

On February 2, the City of Sacramento Office of Community Response’s (OCR) interim Director Bridgette Dean provided the City Council with a program overview, which began with a Powerpoint presentation (that is not included in the attachments for the public). Dean noted that in September 2020, following her appointment as interim Director, Homeless Services Division and Office of Violence Prevention were added to the Office of Community Response.

The consolidation of two departments under DCR is characterized by Dean as a “systemic shift in our public safety model,” and “the right response, to the right call at the right time.” The changes should allow the City of Sacramento to provide an alternative resource and response to those in crisis or in need of assistance that does not require police or fire personnel response. Additionally, it should enable the Office of Community Response to [still] work collaboratively with police, fire, and emergency response models to reduce calls for service and connect individuals to community-based services and providers. Dean stated that the goal is to be first on scene. She also noted that many of the calls this type of department would be doing work around is case management to ensure individuals do not come back into contact.

The primary goal of DCR is to link each person to appropriate services (i.e., mental health, substance abuse, housing, medical, food) to ensure quality of life for that individual and reduce calls for service to law enforcement or fire. Additional goals related to calls for service include improving positive experiences for the individual in crisis, reducing the impact on overcrowded emergency departments, and reducing calls for service to 911. OCR teams will consist of a social worker and outreach specialist, but may also include peers with lived experiences, county social service staff and community-based organization (CBO) partners. Individuals calling 911 can also request OCR teams to respond to their crisis and CBOs are critical to its success as they provide specialized areas of expertise that are not found within DCR, law enforcement or fire department response.

Dean shared that there were 72,386 calls for service to the Sacramento Police Department in 2020 and that the average number of calls for the year was between 500,000 and 600,000.

Dean discussed DCR’s budget for Fiscal Year 2020-21. City Council approved their Mid-Year Budget during this same meeting where $1,608,350 million was allocated for 12 full-time employees, supplies, services, equipment, and six vehicles for the establishment of the Office of the Community Response; $761,500 was allocated to restore the admin contingency for the funds fronted to support homeless mitigation efforts from the Office of Community Response; and $2,378,000 was allocated to establish and fund the Office of Community Response.

Dean identified next steps to be scheduling meetings with CBOs related to the following areas: youth and families, mental health, homelessness, and substance use. Additional steps include working with council members to identify key service providers in their districts and creating advisory panels in the four key areas mentioned above. The long-term goal for DCR is to be a 24/7 365 response model.

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