Over the past several months, we have listened as community members have considered how funds can be reallocated from the police department into other community services and priorities, including housing, schools, and more. In the past several years, officers have been increasingly tasked with navigating complex social issues, among them mental and behavioral health, substance abuse, the homeless crisis, and more. At MVPD, we have increased our partnerships and training in these areas to equip officers with the skills and resources to manage situations involving these factors. For example, more than 50 percent of our officers have received additional training in crisis intervention communication skills, for incidents where de-escalation and additional mental and behavioral health training can assist in reducing the emotional and psychological stress that can come with a crisis, be it one involving an individual dealing with mental health concerns, a domestic dispute, etc.
In addition, our Neighborhood and Event Services Unit is a two-person team that directly responds to quality of life concerns as we continue to see a growing housing crisis in Silicon Valley. This team’s top priority is ensuring that those who are homeless or unstably housed in Mountain View get connected to the help they may need, be it through community-based organizations (CBOs), county services, or other avenues through faith-based groups. This team consists of two officers and a Community Service Officer. This unit now works directly with CBOs including Community Services Agency, the Day Laborer’s Center, and more to help assist in connecting people with housing and food needs, medical and dental care, etc. As the needs of our community are further reassessed, and as we continue to have a dialogue about the role of police in our community, we will update you on how, and if, this specialized team will continue in its capacity.
That being said, we are open to constructive conversations about other avenues for managing these challenges in our community.
As it stands, current funding for MVPD supports not just personnel costs, but also avenues for us to be able to go beyond the fundamentals of policing with tackling crime and enforcing the law. With our budget, we are able to also invest in ways in which we can better respond to our rapidly expanding community safely, with empathy and compassion for all, and with the best understanding possible of the needs of those who call Mountain View home.