Two men sit in a van used for non-police response to mental health crises.
Santa Clara County TRUST, a non-police mobile crisis response team, is dispatched through the 988 call center. Photo courtesy of TRUST.

San Jose officials plan to allocate additional funding toward mental health services in the upcoming budget, after advocates pushed for more non-police emergency response.

The Santa Clara County-operated Trusted Response Urgent Support Team (TRUST) program will receive about $450,000 from San Jose to fund another mobile crisis response team for a year. But advocates for non-police emergency responses said the program needs more dollars to maintain around-the-clock services.

Without consistent funding and a 24/7 mobile response team deployed to mental health crisis calls, advocates said the program can’t reach its full potential.

“One of the reasons why we’ve been pushing this is because San Jose ZIP codes generate disproportionately more calls to TRUST and more dispatches than other regions in the county,” Jen Myhre, senior organizer with Showing Up For Racial Justice at Sacred Heart, told San José Spotlight. “Funding an additional TRUST field team for San Jose was one of the community-driven Reimagining Community Safety recommendations from 2022.”

TRUST is the only field response team that operates with trained mental health professionals, a medic and a peer support member — an individual with lived experience. In addition to TRUST, the county operates two other mobile response teams that include law enforcement — Mobile Crisis Response Team and Mobile Response Stabilization Service Team. All three teams provide 24/7 service and are dispatched through the crisis hotline service 988.

At a San Jose City Council meeting earlier this month, Councilmember Peter Ortiz said the San Jose Police Department is at its lowest level of staffing and the city relies on teams like San Jose Beautify to address situations that may endanger them.

“A San Jose TRUST team will serve gaps in services and give reprieve to our hardworking San Jose Police Department officers and city staff who are often deployed to situations that honestly shouldn’t involve them,” Ortiz said.

TRUST operates four response teams in Santa Clara County: three through Campbell-based Pacific Clinics that covers San Jose, West Valley and South County and one through Momentum for Health, which operates a field team in North County.

Momentum for Health CEO and President David Mineta said advocates have been calling for police-alternative crisis responses since President Bill Clinton’s administration in the 1990s.

“These are a team of three people going out and responding in a way that, if that were my family member, is how I would want a response to come in. Empathic,” he told San José Spotlight. “Teams have someone with peer experience who knows what it’s like to have been there, someone who could respond with first aid and for a medical condition.”

Santa Clara County launched TRUST in November 2022. It received $7 million in funding through the Mental Health Services Act and a $2 million grant from the California Department of Health Care Services.

County officials plan to fund $10.2 million for the program in the upcoming fiscal year, a spokesperson for Supervisor Joe Simitian’s office told San José Spotlight.

“What is reflected in our budget, and I think is reflected in San Jose’s action, is a growing realization that we have to be more thoughtful about what kind of response is appropriate in a moment of crisis,” Simitian told San José Spotlight. “And that often can and should be a mental health response rather than a law enforcement response.”

Silicon Valley De-Bug organizer Laurie Valdez said her partner Antonio Guzman-Lopez was killed by San Jose State University police during a mental health crisis before the TRUST program’s development. The new round of funding from San Jose is welcoming news, Valdez said, but it needs to be consistent.

“A lot of people in the community say, ‘I’ll never call the cops for help.’ Everybody’s afraid because you’re gonna either end up dead or in jail — and that’s not what should happen,” she told San José Spotlight. “You should be able to call for help and get the help and resources you need.”

Her advocacy along with other families who lost loved ones to police helped lead to the development of TRUST countywide, De-Bug co-founder Raj Jayadev said.

“After awareness and consciousness around police violence that happened in the wake of the George Floyd murder, and really the racial reckoning around police violence that happened here in San Jose, (officials) were becoming receptive to the idea of alternatives to police and so we had drafted a sort of vision of what that looked like,” he told San José Spotlight.

Contact Vicente Vera at [email protected] or follow @VicenteJVera on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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