Santa Cruz County

Agenda Item
Accepted and filed
Feb 12, 2019 9:00 AM

Consider report on launch of Focused Intervention Team (FIT) Pilot to address high-frequency criminal offenders, and direct staff to return in September 2019 with an update, as outlined in the memorandum of the County Administrative Officer, Sheriff-Coroner, and Director of Health Services


Department:County Administrative OfficeSponsors:County Administrative Officer Carlos J. Palacios, Sheriff-Coroner Jim Hart, Director of Health Services Agency Mimi Hall
Category:CAO - Board LetterFunctions:General Government

Financial Impact

Financing for the FIT Pilot will come from Measure G and, when applicable, federal financial participation through MediCal. For FY 2018-19 Measure G revenue totaling $337,485 for the FIT Pilot has been appropriated ($236,230 in the Sheriff’s Office and $101,255 in the Health Services Agency). MHSA Prevention and Early Intervention funding in the amount of $55,811 was also appropriated for FIT Pilot staffing related to adult mental health services for FY 2018-19. The Board approved funding for 4.0 FTE positions in the Sheriff’s Office and 3.0 FTE positions in the Health Services Agency. The FY 2019-20 cost for the FIT program is estimated at $1,000,000.

Board Letter

Recommended Action(s):

Accept and file report on launch of Focused Intervention Team (FIT) Pilot to address high-frequency criminal offenders, and direct staff to return with an update in September 2019.


Executive Summary

On November 6, 2018, Santa Cruz County voters overwhelmingly approved the Measure G half-cent sales tax on retail transactions in the unincorporated area. One critical program funded through Measure G, the FIT Pilot, launched on January 28th and is an initiative to enhance community safety and move into treatment high-frequency criminal offenders.



On August 7, 2018, the County Administrative Office provided a report with revenue options and funding strategies to address the County’s critical unmet needs, including a FIT Pilot matching law enforcement with behavioral health treatment and supportive services. The Board placed a measure on the November 2018 ballot to increase by ordinance the sales tax on retail transactions in the unincorporated area of the County by one-half percent for 12 years. With more than 66% of the vote, Santa Cruz County voters overwhelmingly approved the sales tax, known as Measure G, on November 6, 2018.


The Focused Intervention Team (FIT) Pilot, which launched on January 28th, was developed in response to a high-level community need and confirmed during development, and aims to enhance community safety and move into treatment high-frequency criminal offenders. The FIT Pilot is not an off-the-shelf public safety or behavioral health program, but a hybrid drawing from established law enforcement and behavioral health practices. The team includes 7.0 full-time equivalent (FTE) professional staff in the Sheriff's Office and Health Services Agency, along with equipment and funding to maximize success.


Representatives from the Sheriff’s Office, County Behavioral Health and County Administrative Office have met with a variety of partners and stakeholders to discuss implementation of the FIT Pilot including the Santa Cruz Police Department, Watsonville Police Department, Santa Cruz County Superior Court, Public Defender, and National Alliance on Mental Illness Santa Cruz County.




FIT Pilot Eligibility: Entry into the FIT Pilot occurs through law enforcement referrals. The initial referral list will be compiled by the Sheriff's Office, and future referrals will come from the Sheriff and local police departments (most likely Santa Cruz and Watsonville) and the Homeless Outreach Proactive Engagement and Services (HOPES) Team. Police department referrals will be informed by public calls for service, but there is no direct public referral.


Listed eligibility criteria include a pattern of past behavior that includes threatening and/or aggressive criminal acts. Substance use disorder and mental health issues are not a prerequisite for entry into the FIT Pilot. Specific criteria are:

1.              Fresh arrest.

2.              Assault, battery, brandishing a weapon, threats or aggressive behavior in public or any non-financial felony.

3.              Minimum of three previous law enforcement contacts within last 90 days of referral.

4.              Refuse assessment; resistant to intervention or treatment. 


FIT Pilot Capacity: The FIT Pilot Team will work Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm to effectively link to support services at governmental and community-based organizations. The FIT Team is currently working with police departments in Santa Cruz and Watsonville for referrals and training, but may work with clients from other jurisdictions. Current capacity is estimated at 30 clients.


FIT Pilot Treatment: County Behavioral Health will employ several evidence-based practices in treating appropriate clients including: motivational interviewing, Seeking Safety, cognitive behavioral therapy, and others consistent with existing programs such as Crisis Intervention (Memphis Model CIT), Law Enforcement Mental Health Liaisons, and the HOPES Model for delivering coordinated services through a multi-disciplinary team model to the homeless. For clients who are resistant to such services, custody can be stabilizing, particularly when paired with 24/7 medical and pharmacological oversight. The goal is not to lock people up, but to use custody as an intervention to deliver services to this population, potentially for the first time in their lives. The working assumption is that FIT Pilot clients may be in detention for 3-5 days, and will be closely monitored.


FIT Pilot clients will also be connected with a range of wraparound services, including medical and food benefits, housing navigation, and more. The anticipated success of the program is built on leveraging the resources of existing community partners, including Substance Use Disorder treatment programs at Sobriety Works, Janus, and Encompass, Specialty Courts including the Behavioral Health Court and the newly restarted PACT Court under Judge Salazar, Mental Health services through County Behavioral Health and its contracted non-profits in the community, Inpatient and locked care programs in the community, and outpatient programs that are based on Evidence Based Practices, such as the new Pathways Program through Community Connections. The FIT Pilot uses an intensive community-based contact approach from both the law enforcement and behavioral health teams until a client completes the treatment period. FIT Pilot teams are also committed to utilizing scarce County housing resources including sober living environments and Section 8 vouchers, when available.


FIT Pilot Evaluation: The FIT Pilot Team is fully committed to learning through the pilot process, and extensively detailing and measuring FIT Pilot successes and failures. The primary metric for success is whether we see a reduction in criminal activity by FIT Pilot clients in behaviors targeted by the FIT Pilot. Our draft matrix for performance measurement includes numerous metrics in the areas of basic location and demographics, access to care, criminal justice, and quality of life, including whether clients have access to a primary care physician, successfully enrolled or completed substance use treatment, enrolled in CalFresh benefits, and others. It also includes a community evaluation survey. The Pilot phase will be used to establish baseline measures of success, and we propose that progress towards the establishment of these measures be presented to the Board bi-annually.


Strategic Plan Element(s)

1.C (Comprehensive Health & Safety: Local Justice)

1.D (Comprehensive Health & Safety: Behavioral Health)


The FIT Pilot will enhance public safety by cooperating with our city partners to address high-frequency criminal offenders. Furthermore, the program partners with County Behavioral Health to increase uptake and utilization of treatment programs to reduce overall use of public resources among FIT Pilot clients.

Meeting History

Feb 12, 2019 9:00 AM Video Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting

ACCEPTED AND FILED report on launch of Focused Intervention Team (FIT) Pilot to address high-frequency criminal offenders; and

DIRECTED staff to return in September 2019 with an update

MOVER:Zach Friend, Second District Supervisor
SECONDER:Bruce McPherson, Fifth District Supervisor
AYES:John Leopold, Zach Friend, Ryan Coonerty, Greg Caput, Bruce McPherson