The Irvine Police Department is committed to the mental health and wellness of the citizens of Irvine. As such, in 2013 the department created the position of Mental Health Outreach Officer. This position started as one officer reaching out to residents who are either suffering from mental health related issues, or families of those living with mental illness. The Irvine Police Department recognized the value of this program and in 2016 the unit grew to from one to two full time police officers. Now, in 2022, there are three full time police officer positions dedicated to the Mental Health Outreach Unit.
In a case involving a mental health crisis, patrol officers trained in de-escalation and crisis intervention assist to de-escalate the incident and provide immediate support. The details of the incident are then sent to the Mental Health Outreach Unit for follow-up in a time when they can engage with a client who is not in crisis and better able to accept resources.
The Mental Health Outreach Unit collaborates with the City’s FOR Families Program as well as Orange County Behavioral Health in order to focus on wrap around services and linking clients to resources. Using this model also allows a broader spectrum of resources to be offered, and delivered, to a client and their support system, with a goal of eliminating another crisis. The Mental Health Outreach Unit tries to focus on what is best for the client, so we maintain flexibility. Based on the desire of the client, we can conduct a home visit, have the client meet us at the police station, or meet in a public place.
As we know, mental illness is often an underlying cause of homelessness, which is why within this unit is our Homeless Liaison Officer (HLO) position. The goal of the HLO is to work with the homeless members of our community and connect them to housing, food, medical, mental health, and other critical resources. We partner with Orange County’s Outreach & Engagement to help link the homeless in our community to these services. Helping someone connect to housing can take time, and several interactions, however the HLO’s and OC’s Outreach & Engagement are committed to contacting a client as many times as it takes to help them access these services.
To speak to a Mental Health Outreach Officer, email firstname.lastname@example.org , or contact our dispatch center at 949-724-7200.