The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is working to take a new approach when encountering violent situations with its Mental Health Evaluation Team.
Built with mental health in mind, the unique program even has patrol cars with seats for a clinician and, just across the backseat, a spot for a person receiving help.
"What happened in Texas was terrible," LASD Deputy Alyssa Mills said of the recent. "But it's one of those things that now, it's in people's minds."
Mills, who is with the department's Mental Evaluation Team, made up of clinicians and deputies who work together to deescalate potentially dangerous situations and get those who need help connected to the right people, said more mental health calls are coming into dispatch since the tragedy in Texas.
"We're grateful to get those calls. We would rather get a call that is not going to go anywhere than never get a call that ends up being something," Deputy Mills said.
Many LA County residents are unaware that the Mental Health Evaluation Team or MET exists.
"LA County, we have so many resources here and I like to think of MET as the hub of those resources because we know where they all are," said Mills.
MET works closely with schools to create an active-shooter plan. Sgt. Richard Bojorquez said being proactive instead of reactive is key.
"Mental health is the reason for all this. A lot of times, we want to blame it simple, blame the gun. I've carried a gun on my hip for 32 years and never had to use it," the Sgt. said.
The deputies said there is still stigma surrounding mental health and the only way to get through that is to talk about it.
"It's almost as if, unfortunately, like, people forget and tragedy like this brings it back into the forefront," said Deputy Mills.
MET also said that tragedies like the mass shooting are also triggers for veterans and said they have received calls from several veterans asking how they can help.
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