Civilian Grand Jury Finds Lompoc Police Department Needs Co-Response Team for Mental Health Appeals | Local news

the Lompoc Police Department needs a co-response team for incidents involving mental health issues, and the understaffed agency should explore outside help for temporary targeted support, according to a report by the Santa County Civilian Grand Jury Barbara.

In a report titled “Lompoc Police Department is moving towards a safe and proud community” and filled with positive feedback on the efforts to rebuild the police service, the panel included two findings and two recommendations.

After determining that the Lompoc Police Department needed a co-response team dedicated to its geographic area, the panel recommended that the municipal Council negotiate with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and the Board of Supervisors in the name of the Department of Behavioral Well-being to add a co-response team dedicated to the Lompoc Valley.

“The LPD does not have an internal crisis management team to deal with mental health issues,” the panel said, adding that 15 sworn officers and two dispatchers had received training in crisis intervention.

Co-response teams pair a clinician from the county’s behavioral wellness department with a law enforcement officer for incidents involving people in crisis who need mental health help or other intervention .

“The jury was told on several occasions that the teams were often slow to react due to the great distances to be covered,” the report said. “Without the ability to write 5150 welfare and institutional supports, LPD has its hands tied when it comes to people experiencing a mental health crisis. It is widely accepted that the LPD lacks the resources to deal with mental health situations. “

The county has created a co-response program with the sheriff’s office, but has a team for North County.

the Santa Maria Police Department recently twinned with the county to create a Joint Incident Response Team in the city.

In a second finding and recommendation, the grand jury noted that the police department had been understaffed for a number of years, resulting in service gaps.

The panel recommended that city council explore the possibility of contracting with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office for targeted support while the police department comes back to full force. These service gaps apparently include the elimination of the gang and narcotics unit, school resource officers, a community outreach team, and a homeless liaison officer.

The city’s welcome to the cannabis industry created a need for a cannabis compliance team.

“The Jury learned that only one agent was available for the first inspections and that no operation was compliant. With many cannabis applications pending approval, the city needs to form a multi-member team with the police department to enforce compliance, ”the report said.

Lompoc executives embraced cannabis, not limiting businesses and leading to around a dozen dispensaries in the city. Two large cannabis manufacturing facilities also received approval from the Lompoc Planning Commission These last months.

The panel also noted that Lompoc City Prison, in the police station building, has had many problems in recent years.

“When the North Branch Prison opens 24 miles away in early 2022, however, there may be a change in the need for Lompoc Prison going forward,” the panel said.

He also noted that the prison is inside the police station building, which “does not meet California Essential Services Act requirements for fire, safety, energy and accessibility. , nor does it have enough power for a police and mobile command headquarters.The building may be beyond repair and in need of a complete renovation.

However, an upgrade, estimated at $ 10 million, has still not been funded.

The report praised Lompoc’s efforts to rebuild after budget cuts and a drop in the number of officers.

“The 2021 Santa Barbara County Grand Jury commends Lompoc City Council, Town, and Police Authorities for their concerted efforts to fund and rebuild the Lompoc Police Department, recognizing that a safe environment and the future growth of the city depends on the excellence of law enforcement, ”he said.

The civil grand jury, a panel of volunteers, serves as a watchdog for government agencies. Santa Barbara County Superior Court the directors recently revised the term for the calendar year, not the fiscal year, to align it with the term of the presiding judge. This resulted in a flurry of reports released in December, not June, as in the past.

To see the Lompoc report of the grand jury and others of the Session 2021, click here.

– Noozhawk North County Editor-in-Chief Janene Scully can be reached at . (JavaScript must be enabled to display this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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