Concord PD launches pilot programs to serve homeless, mentally ill

CONCORD, CA—Because many of Concord’s homeless and unhoused are afflicted with mental health or drug addiction issues, the Police Department cannot solve all the problems we encounter.

We need support from our county health partners, as well as other social outreach partners.

To that end, the Concord Police Department recently received City Council approval to go forward with two pilot programs that I hope will positively impact the community at large, and the homeless and mentally ill specifically.

The first program will be a Concord specific Coordinated Outreach Referral and Engagement (CORE) team. This two-person team will respond to calls for service and homeless encampments reported via the Concord Connect app or through self-observed situations. The goal is to locate, engage, stabilize and house individuals who are unsheltered.

The team will utilize all county and local resources available to them. Our goal is to assist those in Concord who need specific services that will help them get off the streets and into some type of more permanent housing to help improve their quality of life.

The second program is a full-time Mental Health Evaluation Team (MHET). This team will consist of a mental health clinician and a police officer. The two will work proactively to provide linkages to appropriate outpatient mental health services and assistance in obtaining resources to promote remaining in the community safely.

Many 911 calls for service occur when a person is in crisis and needs specific mental health assistance. We plan to use MHET as a means to contact our most frequent persons with mental health issues before they are actually in crisis, or immediately afterward. If we can help people before their crisis leads to an emergency call, we will consider that progress. Identifying and getting people help on an as-needed basis before things spiral will benefit not only the individual in crisis but the community as a whole.

These two pilot programs are existing programs that we participated in on a part-time basis. Expanding on successful county programs is an efficient way to enhance services quickly. The city’s goal is to begin these Concord specific programs by March 1.

Ideally, the police would not respond to mental health or homeless calls at all. However, we believe the two pilot programs will provide a stopgap measure until the county finishes a coordinated study of health service delivery to the mentally ill and homeless.

It may not be perfect, but it is a start in getting the services to the people who need them the most.

Contact Chief Bustillos at