Money for CRISES Planning State funding for mobile crisis startups may soon be available

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Local organizations or government agencies interested in a mobile crisis program on the Central Coast may soon get the state encouragement needed to kickstart just that sort of program. Maybe.

An Assembly bill currently awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature could grant a minimum of $250,000 for three years to organizations to “stimulate and support involvement in emergency response activities that do not require a law enforcement officer.”

The bill, AB 2054, establishes a program called the Community Response Initiative to Strengthen Emergency Assistance, or CRISES. Co-authors of the bill included two local Assembly members, including Robert Rivas from Hollister and Mark Stone from Santa Cruz.

However, as often happens with legislation of this sort, the bill does not actually set aside the funds, and the state Treasurer would be responsible for making money available. The bill itself notes that the office “would bear no responsibility for implementing the act” if funds are not available.

According the legislation, the program would help create programs in communities “where there is a history and pattern of racial profiling, law enforcement violence, gaps in law enforcement service, or where vulnerable populations live.” The lengthy list of those vulnerable populations include people of color, people with disabilities and people facing mental health crises.

If the legislation is signed and money becomes available, the funds could be used to plan and implement local programs to provide alternatives to police response to non-emergency calls to 911.

The legislation has generated significant interest among social justice groups, including the ACLU of California, the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color and the Youth Justice Coalition. They have launched a letter writing campaign asking Newsom to sign the legislation — and to include funding.

Newsom last week signed more than a dozen new bills designed to improve access to mental health services in California, but the CRISES Act was not among them.

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Joe Livernois

About Joe Livernois

Joe Livernois has been a reporter, editor and columnist in Monterey County for 35 years.

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