WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — West Sacramento is restructuring its police department by shifting money away from police officers and putting it toward a crisis intervention team.

The city is choosing not to hire five vacant police positions that were in the budget and use that money for a new team called the “Community Outreach and Support Division.”

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“Eighty percent of the cities across the country are having a tough time filling police officer jobs. We are among those 80%, so we’re taking those unfilled police officer positions and shifting them over to the mental health and crisis intervention team,” Mayor Christopher Cabaldon said.

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Mayor Cabaldon calls this decision a proactive step in addressing people’s concerns about policing.

The head of the division will report directly to the chief and deputy chief of police and will respond to calls where an “armed response” is not needed. About half a dozen support staff comprised of crisis intervention specialists, mental health workers, and homeless outreach workers will be hired as well.

“We could’ve spent a year studying this, we could’ve had a task force, we could’ve done a couple of studies. But instead, we want to get out there and really start to meet people where they’re at and approach public safety in a new way and learn lessons, both for ourselves but for other cities around the region too,” Cabaldon said.

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The city has officially launched the search for the manager who will oversee the new division. They’re hoping to have that position and the rest of the team hired within the next few months.

Adrienne Moore