What is the SAFE program?
The City of Petaluma is proud to partner with Petaluma People Services Center (PPSC) to bring our community the SAFE (Specialized Assistance for Everyone) program - a mobile crisis response team modeled after the successful and nationally recognized Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS) program in Eugene, Oregon.
The SAFE approach empowers us to achieve more efficient and successful outcomes for crisis response, intervention, and treatment for long-term improvement of our community and individual quality of life.
In 2020, our community called on us to offer services designed to assist law enforcement in addressing crises involving issues associated with mental health, addiction, and homelessness - bringing professionals trained in these areas to offer help in place of, or in addition to, police officers. We are grateful to our community for this call to action and honored to answer the call. Petaluma is the first city in Sonoma County, and the first in the region, to provide a program like SAFE.
How does it work?
Calls for service involving mental health, addiction, and homelessness account for a significant number of calls our police and fire department respond to annually. Through the SAFE program, these calls are responded to by a team with the tools, resources, and knowledge to address the unique needs of community members more effectively. In partnering with PPSC, the City is able to leverage existing behavioral health programs and ensure a seamless referral to an established continuum of care.
The SAFE team provides 3 main services to the community:
- Emergency response for issues relating to mental health, addiction, and homelessness
- Non-emergency response for people in need
- Proactive community outreach
SAFE team members are accompanied by police officers to calls for service only if a person is armed, believed to be in danger of causing harm to themselves or others, or if emergency medical care is needed. The SAFE team does not provide emergency medical care or execute involuntary mental health detention.
The team works proactively to address low level issues and provides preventative outreach to help ensure individuals don’t end up needing higher level of care. This program is intended to benefit all of public safety by keeping police officers, firefighters, and paramedics available for appropriate emergencies.
Learn more HERE.
Rebuilding our Police Department in New Ways
The Petaluma Police Department is part of a multi-disciplinary approach to supporting safety and dignity throughout our community. Thanks to the community voting in Measure U, the City was able to allocate $1 million dollars to fund the SAFE crisis intervention program.
In addition to SAFE, the Police Department will be adding a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) to their team to strengthen the existing safety-net for those seeking mental health service in our community. PPSC has the largest community counseling clinic in southern Sonoma County. The internal MFT will provide additional support to staff along with a new, full-time Training Coordinator. Contracts with Petaluma’s PPSC, the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS) and the Downtown Streets Team also work to help those most in need in our community through their work to prevent homelessness, find housing, and provide services to improve their lives.
Please review the questions and answers below to learn more about how to access SAFE services and how the program is structured.