The VOMB Squad: Episode 9 Ben Climer is in CAHOOTS for alternative policing


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Check out the rest of the podcast series here.


Ben Climer | Provided Photo

This week Voices of Monterey Bay asks residents of the Central Coast to give serious consideration to a bold new proposal to establish a fully-funded mobile crisis program serving all of Monterey County 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Except the proposal really isn’t that bold, or that new. Eugene, Ore., has been providing full-bore mobile teams to serve people in crisis for 30 years now. And it’s become a model for communities who are looking to replicate the program since people started agitating to “defund” police after the shooting death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Voices believes it is time that Monterey County do the same.

To learn more about the program in Eugene, called CAHOOTS, Voices asked journalists from Eugene to describe the program. And this week, the VOMB Squad podcast talks about CAHOOTS with Ben Climer, who has become an “evangelical” for the program. Under CAHOOTS, mobile teams of crisis counselors and medics handle most of “social work” calls to help people who are dealing with basic life crises.

“It is the case that in a lot of other cities the police will handle those calls,” Climer tells VOMB Squad host Joe Livernois. “In turn the citizens will be frustrated because the police response time will increase when they are responding to emergency situations.”

The reactionary response is to add more police officers. “What CAHOOTS offers is … an alternative, which is to say, no, the police are designed specifically for these emergency situations … and instead of doing that they are doing welfare checks on your grandmothers,” Climer says. “So why don’t we create a team who is is specifically designed to do welfare checks on the people living on the streets, on your grandmothers, on your suicid[al] teenagers, and that is what mobile crisis provides.”

The VOMB Squad Podcast is produced in conjunction with Access Media Productions with the steady assistance of Noa Daniels, programs services manager at AMP. Many of the podcasts will tackle some of the issues we are following at Voices of Monterey Bay. Some of them will be conversations with local people who we think are interesting or cool. And some might take us far afield.

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About VOMB

Voices of Monterey Bay is a nonprofit online news source serving California's Central Coast.

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