PASO ROBLES — At a March 3 meeting, Paso Robles Police Commander Stephen Lampe updated the City Council on the initial progress of the police department’s Community Action Team. Part of the PRPD detective bureau, the team’s scope includes identifying individuals who are frequently contacted by officers due to acute mental health issues, extreme drug, and alcohol dependence, and homelessness.
“This team does not just go out and arrest individuals,” Lampe said. “They work tirelessly by assisting these individuals and finding alternatives to living on the streets. The CAT team assists by connecting individuals to needed resources such as county drug, alcohol, and mental health services, shor- term housing and mental health services.”
The CAT initiative launched in November 2019. It composed a “top five” list of individuals who were most contacted by the department and caused significant officer safety issues and considerable impact on the community, according to officials.
“Within a few weeks of beginning, all five had been contacted, and CAT began addressing each individual’s circumstances,” Lampe said.
By working with selected homeless individuals to place them in programs that can help resolve mental health and other issues, a dramatic decrease in calls for service and officer time is being achieved, officials reported. As one example, Lampe told the Council that one individual was responsible for more than 300 hundred calls for service and 34 arrests between the years 2017 and 2019. Lampe said the unnamed person caused 162 calls for service and 12 arrests in 2019 up until November when the CAT team began its work.
“I am happy to say that in February of 2020, PRPD has not received one call for service for this subject and only received four call for service for January, so it’s been a tremendous success,” Lampe said.
CAT also works with the City’s waste and community departments to address citywide homeless camps and trash, including the Salinas Riverbed inside the city limits. The team is comprised of one sergeant, two officers, and a part-time psychiatric technician who works for San Luis Obispo County.