San Luis Obispo Police Department Expands Community Action Team
The City of San Luis Obispo Police Department’s Community Action Team (CAT) now has a social worker to help officers respond to issues surrounding the community’s most vulnerable. The program is a partnership with the County of San Luis Obispo’s Behavioral Health Department and Transitions Mental Health Association (TMHA).
Social worker John Klevins is embedded in SLOPD’s Community Action Team that focuses on outreach and preventive engagement with those impacted by mental illness, substance use issues, and homelessness. Klevins assists officers in the field, engages with individuals needing support, and provides counseling and referrals to those with severe mental health needs. He has experience working both within the County’s Psychiatric Health Facility as well as the Atascadero State Hospital.
“The CAT changes lives everyday, one step at a time,” John Klevins said. “With our clients, improvement tends to occur in a series of small steps. It took years for these individuals to become who they are today, it will take time, perseverance and programmatic support to alter that trajectory. However, the very nature of our CAT program establishes a progressive relationship between social worker, police officer and client to build rapport and gain trust.”
Once the foundation between clients and the CAT is established, clients can be referred to programs that help with finding long-term housing, psychosocial therapy, substance recovery, career counseling and family reintegration.
The City works with the County and various nonprofit organizations to provide assistance to the homeless. The County is the lead social services and mental health agency and regional leader in addressing the needs of the area’s homeless population. It receives federal and state funding from various sources to provide a wide range of programs and services. City departments such as police, fire, and park rangers respond to day-to-day medical and service calls. There is also a portion of the City’s General Fund directed to homeless services.
Funding for Klevins’ position was approved in 2018 and TMHA was awarded the program after a competitive process. TMHA works with various government agencies to provide mental health services ranging from education and prevention activities, to therapeutic services for the homeless and severely mentally ill.
CONTACT: Capt. Jeff Smith, Police Department