LA to deploy 'therapeutic transport vans' for mental health emergencies

Los Angeles County on Sept. 9 unveiled a new fleet of vehicles that will respond to 911 calls involving people facing mental health crises, according to Los Angeles Daily News.

The fleet includes 10 "therapeutic transport vans" that will be staffed with a clinician and peer support specialist. The vans are also equipped for patients to teleconference with a psychiatrist during transport. 

The county is also rolling out 19 unmarked Ford SUVs, which will be driven by police officers who are part of the county's Mental Evaluation Team. The vehicles are designed to offer "discreet transportation of individuals when they have to engage with law enforcement," Lt. John Gannon of the L.A. County Sheriff'’s Department told Los Angeles Daily News.

Instead of the bars seen in most law-enforcement vehicles, the SUVs instead have barriers between the backseat to allow space for the person in custody on one side and a therapist on the other. The vehicles will also have antennas to help locate missing people wearing L.A. Found bracelets and a different siren than typical sheriff's vehicles.

The new vehicles are a major step toward treating mental illness as a health issue rather than a crime, County Supervisor Kathryn Barger told Los Angeles Daily News.

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