Psychiatric Emergency Response Team

What is PERT?

The Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) operates within San Diego County and consists of licensed mental health clinicians paired with specially trained law enforcement officers and paramedics. Together, they interact with persons experiencing a behavioral health crisis who have come to the attention of public safety agencies. The goal of PERT is to provide crisis resolution and proactive outreach to facilitate connection of people to the appropriate level of behavioral health services to decrease unnecessary hospitalization and minimize the possibility of decompensation leading to unlawful behavior with resultant incarceration. PERT's primary purposes are: (1) Provide clinical support to law enforcement, emergency medical services, and the community for 911 calls involving persons having a mental health crisis; (2) Provide education and training to public safety personnel on issues related to behavioral health crisis intervention and de-escalation to enhance empathy, compassion and effectiveness when interacting with the public; and (3) Provide collaboration for public safety, the behavioral health system of care, and community.

In the early-1990's, there were several officer involved shootings and critical incidents involving persons living with mental illness. Recognizing the gap in collaboration between law enforcement and mental health providers, the community at large, persons living with mental illness, family members, San Diego County HHSA, and law enforcement agencies convened to recommend that law enforcement officers receive additional training beyond police academy State mandates in recognizing and responding to persons experiencing mental health issues and acquire clinical support from mental health professionals. PERT is the result of an exceptional collaboration of community partners. Today, PERT is funded through San Diego County HHSA to provide 70 licensed behavioral health clinicians partnered with law enforcement and 2 licensed behavioral health clinicians partnered with San Diego Fire & Rescue - Resource Access Program.

PERT received Commendation from the San Diego Grand Jury in May 2018: "The 2017/2018 San Diego County Grand Jury commends the PERT program for its valuable service to law enforcement agencies and to the citizens of the San Diego County. The Grand Jury also appreciates the support of this program by Community Research Foundation, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, and the San Diego County Health and Human Services." 

Highlights for FY2019-20: PERT Clinicians (Law Enforcement and EMS combined) conducted 35,701 contacts in the community. PERT provided 12,340 Crisis Interventions (of which 5,750 or 47% were diverted from a 5150 hospital transport for other community resources) and 23,361 Community Service interventions. PERT Clinicians provided 9,413 crisis intervention services to persons identifying as being homeless. PERT attempted crisis resolution contact, but was unable to do so (e.g., person could not be located or declined to interact) an additional 7,695 occasions (thus, a total of 20,035 Crisis Interventions were attempted).


To access PERT services, please call 911 or your local law enforcement agency. The PERT Administrative Office does not have crisis counselors on staff or the ability to dispatch a PERT unit to respond.