Mobile Evaluation Team helps law enforcement deal with mental health crisis

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Law enforcement in Kern County answer more than 3,000 calls a year from people going through with a mental health crisis.

The Mobile Evaluation Team is a unit assigned to law enforcement after officers and deputies are confronted by a person with a dire need of a rapid mental health intervention.

There are several questions members of Kern County's Mobile Evaluation Team have to answer before taking action.

"Is this person a danger to themselves or a danger to others?" said Emily Grogan, supervisor of the MET team.

The team formed 15 years ago with only three staff members and as the need increased, it started to grow.

"A lot of people know us as the MET team," she said.

There are now nine mental health professionals assigned to MET who also aide officers in preparing to deal with a mental health crisis.

"It helps provide some basic training to officers on what signs and symptoms and behaviors to look for that may identify that someone may be experiencing a mental health crisis," said Grogan.

The team responds to about 300 calls a month covering 8,171 square miles of Kern County.

"Some signs and symptoms that may arise in calls may be paranoia, anxiety, false believes, which are referred to as delusions, depression, being isolated and withdrawn," she said.

The team can spend anywhere between 15 minutes to a couple of hours working with individuals in the field and members say every second counts.

"When we're there on site and able to respond immediately to these situations we're more likely to be able to re-direct individuals from the criminal justice system, actually to mental health services," she said.

Members of the MET team are available to deal with crisis 7 days a week.


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