By Steve Large

NEVADA COUNTY (CBS13) — The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office will now team up a licensed therapist with a deputy to respond to certain 911 calls that are not crime-related.

Sheriff Shannan Moon plans to launch the new mobile crisis team by the end of the year.

“It’s exciting because it is a big deal,” Sheriff Moon said.

Dispatchers will assign some non-criminal, mental health calls to a deputy and therapist paired up in a patrol car.

“The deputy sheriff is there to provide that scene security and safety,” Sheriff Moon said. “The clinician is there to provide the services, the referrals and the assessments.”

The pilot program is in response to calls for change across the country in policing. Moon says it will reduce the risk of deadly confrontations with people in mental health crisis.

“Those things will decrease when you bring a more effective tool, potentially,” Sheriff Moon said.

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“We’re running about 180 assessments a month,” Todd Arvidson, the General Manager of the Nevada County Crisis Stabilization Unit, said.

Inside the Nevada County Behavioral Health nerve center, Arvidson says mental health cases have been more severe than ever during the pandemic. Having a therapist arrive on the scene of a 911 call will help patients who could otherwise be fearful of a law enforcement response.

“When you have law enforcement engage individuals, some people believe they’re going to be punished, or incarcerated, and that’s not the message we want to give,” Arvidson said.

A new approach in Nevada County. Therapists joining the sheriff’s department, helping to handle threats to public safety.

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