Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 26, 2021

Counting MACROs

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

On Friday Vice Mayor Malia Vella tweeted this call to action:

While definitely understanding what happened during the encounter between Mario Gonzalez and APD is important, we will need to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time during this critical moment.

Putting aside the need for transparency and the release of footage we need to talk about that last part of VM Malia Vella’s tweet. The “move to the MACRO model of response.”

While it is a tragedy that it took someone’s death for some sort of action to be taken that seems to be the general MO for Alameda generally.

The MACRO model of response is best defined by what Oakland is doing in their own pilot program which will be run through its Fire Department:

City councilmembers voted unanimously Tuesday to place the civilian response program in the Oakland Fire Department and to do it quickly. The program is called MACRO and is an acronym for Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland.

Under MACRO, civilian responders rather than police would also respond to other non-violent crisis calls in addition to mental health calls.

More details of the general program can be found here.

But in a positive for the City of Alameda we have the bones of a similar program which was piloted in Alameda recently and could be tweaked slightly to bridge the gap between what we have now (nothing) and a more robust program. The Fire Department ran a pilot of Community Paramedics which was, specifically, to:

Community Paramedics will connect at-risk populations to appropriate resources, including those who frequently use emergency services

Based on an old consent calendar item about the program, these are the types of interactions handled by AFD:

The Community Paramedics have, and will continue to, assist their homeless clients with an array of issues, including:

•                     Placement in detox/sobering centers

•                     Placement in drug/alcohol rehabilitation programs

•                     Acquiring California identification cards

•                     Acquiring Alameda County Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards

•                     Enrollment in CalWorks and CalFresh benefit programs

•                     Housing assistance (temporary and permanent)

•                     Transportation assistance (enrollment in East Bay Paratransit, taxi vouchers, etc.)

•                     Providing food vouchers and clothing as needed

•                     Referral to existing and/or new Primary Care Providers

•                     Mental health psychologist referrals and evaluations

•                     Prescription medication picked up and delivered

•                     Emergency domestic violence shelter placements

•                     Job and volunteer opportunity placements

•                     Cleaning of hazardous living conditions

•                     Connection with family (distant and close)

•                     Pet food attained and delivered in coordination with FAAS

While it seems as though these skills would be transferrable for higher stress situations, I means these are paramedics after all, even if they didn’t have all the resources it seems like there should be off-the-rack mental health training programs which should make the team street ready in a shorter amount of time than any other alternatives we have now.

Just so we’re keeping track, Tony Daysog voted against this program in 2019.

The City Council must adopt something, quickly, because we’ve seen what a year of inaction can do. Had we done something, anything a year ago when it was Mali Watkins harassed for exercising in the streets at the beginning of a stressful pandemic maybe we wouldn’t be facing down the death of a father to a four year old and the caretaker of his family.

8 Comments »

  1. A wholly owned subsidiary of the fire union has a plan to increase fire union’s headcount.

    In other news, water is wet, film at 11.

    Comment by JM — April 26, 2021 @ 6:51 am

    • Because policing is totally not broken and we shouldn’t do anything at all because god forbid paramedics be used to actually help people who have emergencies where sending out someone with a badge and a gun is not appropriate because the firefighter union dares to have different politics than you.

      Comment by Lauren Do — April 26, 2021 @ 8:16 am

    • THIS is your argument against diverting the police from handling things that don’t involve crime? I don’t see you volunteering, or even being remotely qualified to help instead of these trained professionals who you think make too much money.

      Comment by Rod — April 26, 2021 @ 10:01 am

    • As long as firefighters refrain from lighting buildings on fire and killing people when they interact with them I am open to hearing more.

      Comment by bjsvec — April 26, 2021 @ 11:40 am

  2. The special meeting is a good idea.

    Separately: The animus towards fire fighters among some in this town is a weird tic. Just say you’re a Republican. Not like a regular Republican, though. A cool Republican.

    Comment by Gaylon — April 26, 2021 @ 12:28 pm

    • I hope when the whole anti-firefighter crowd’s houses catch fire, they call the police and the Citizens Task Force to put it out instead of calling those evil firefighters they hate so much!

      Comment by Rod — April 27, 2021 @ 7:35 am

  3. A person experiencing mental health crisis deserves more than “off the rack mental health training” responders.

    While it’s important to expedite the transition away from police response to social service calls it’s equally important to replace the response with the appropriate service. Community based organizations can provide people with the training, community responders and medics.

    A Federal Investigation by the Department of Justice released last week found Alameda County’s Mental Health Care System violates the fundamental rights of people with mental illnesses and is unconstitutional. Two factors noted in the investigation were a lack of crisis services and a lack of community based organizations provided mental health services. Can Alameda County really afford to hinder any crisis response or community based organizations from providing mental health services?

    Let’s not just go for what’s expeditious let’s go for effective too.

    Comment by Beth Kenny — April 26, 2021 @ 4:30 pm

    • I agree with Beth, 100%.
      And what the council voted on 5-0 was a CAHOOTS style model, not MACRO.

      Comment by Erin Fraser — April 27, 2021 @ 10:42 am


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