How It Works

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Core Framework and Limits to the Project

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.

Heads Up referrals may only be initiated by first responder agencies in Mendocino County.

Initial response to a Heads Up referral may take up to a week. This project is not designed to provide immediate, real-time, response to a Heads Up referral.

All Mendocino County law enforcement and first responder agencies have a standing invitation to join the project at any time.

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

Referral and Report Back Process

Step 1 – Referral Received: A First Responder Agency sends an email alert to the designated email proxy address.

Step 2 – Appropriate Point Person Identified: The email alert is received by the Email Proxy Monitor, currently staffed by the Special Projects Team housed in the Social Services Department. The Email Proxy Monitor serves the role of an “air traffic controller” who identifies the most appropriate person or organization to follow up on the individual’s needs. If relevant, we screen the individual for existing links to the probation department, behavioral health system, homeless services system, child welfare department, adult services, community-based organizations, or other relevant agencies. If necessary, the Email Proxy Monitor contacts Dispatch and/or the referring agency to request additional information to help identify the appropriate pathway to response.

Step 3 – Response Initiated: The appropriate person or agency reaches out to the client by phone or in-person, and begins the process of offering support, directing to appropriate resources, or further engaging as necessary. Depending on the complexity of the situation, a Multi-Disciplinary Team meeting may be facilitated.

Step 4 – Report Back to Referring Agency: Every week, the Heads Up project facilitator sends a weekly report back to referring agencies with the current outcome status of each referral. To protect client confidentiality, but also provide law enforcement agencies with useful and relevant information, we use a color-coding system to quickly categorize referrals for ease of communication and to develop a common language. For example, a Green status indicates that successful engagement has occurred, a Yellow status indicates that contact is still pending, etc.

The weekly report back does not include protected health information (unless a Release of Information from the individual is secured), but does proactively include as much information as is legally allowable to share with partners engaged in providing services.

Step 5 – Ongoing Program Monitoring: Each quarter, the Criminal Justice – Human Services Collaborative Team reviews the number of referrals, the nature of the precipitating incidents, and the outcome status. The data is used to refine system design, identify areas of improvement, and assess the feasibility of transitioning the pilot program to permanent status.