What is Heads Up?

photo of collaborative hands

The Heads Up project is a pathway for law enforcement agencies in Mendocino County to alert the Behavioral Health and Social Services departments about individuals in our community whose needs are not in alignment with the structure of the criminal justice system.

The overarching goal of the project is to provide early identification and diversion of individuals in need of behavioral health and social services support so as to avoid unnecessary and unproductive use of criminal justice resources.

This is an unfunded pilot project that is still being evaluated for sustainability and value.

The project is limited to partners from within Mendocino County, California.

History and Background

The Heads Up project was initially conceived by an informal group of criminal justice, behavioral health, and social services leaders and staff working together to address issues of mutual concern. In 2020, a small team from the Ukiah Police Department, the Mendocino County Probation Department, the Dual Response Mobile Crisis team from Mendocino County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, and the Special Projects Team at the (former) Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency began to meet regularly, to work on a collaborative response to a handful of individuals in Ukiah with repeated and unproductive interactions with law enforcement, the jail, the social services system, and the behavioral health system. Although the team achieved limited success with the specific individuals in question, our pathways for communication and collaboration expanded significantly.

As a result of efforts focused initially on one or two individuals, the team grew in scope and membership to become an informal Criminal Justice – Human Services Collaborative Team. The addition of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office in 2022 accelerated the scale of the project considerably. Shortly after the Sheriff’s Office joined the team, the idea for the Heads Up email alert system was conceived, embraced, tested, and fully implemented in about six months.

What’s Happening Now

The Collaborative Team continues to meet on a quarterly basis with the goal of shared understanding and commitment to addressing system barriers and designs related to the intersection between criminal justice and human services systems.

Although active Heads Up partners are currently limited to the Ukiah Police Department, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, and the Mendocino County Probation Department, all law enforcement and first responder agencies located in Mendocino County have a standing invitation to join the project at any time.

To join the Heads up project, please Contact Us. Thank you!