Distinguishing Roles
Distinguishing Roles

A PERT unit consists of a law enforcement officer and a PERT Clinician. A PERT Unit will respond to the scene of a police call for service regarding a person experiencing a mental health crisis if the person in crisis or a concerned 3rd party reaches out for assistance by calling 911, or by calling through the non-emergency dispatch number. PERT is a countywide resource with partnership agreements with all 11 local law enforcement agencies within San Diego County. PERT hires PERT Clinicians. PERT does not hire law enforcement officers; rather, they are employees of their respective law enforcement agency.

Although all peace officers in California receive police academy training on effective response involving mental health issues, PERT provides additional training events that surpass this basic police academy education. We conduct this training to better prepare an officer for the PERT role and to also expand their understanding of the nuances of a mental health call so that it exceeds that which is required through Academy training. Law enforcement agencies will have PERT trained officers ride with PERT Clinicians whenever possible. Officers who attend the 3-day PERT Academy are given a PERT pin for their uniform lapel to designate that they have attended this advanced training. Being trained as a PERT officer does not make the officer a staff member of the PERT agency nor does it give the officer training that is comparable to that of the clinical staff that do work directly for PERT.

Officers recognize the importance in how they identify themselves to the public so that the distinction between law enforcement and PERT Clinician is clear. Officers not accompanied by a PERT Clinician should not represent themselves in a manner that would create confusion, such as commenting, "I am PERT." In this instance, the public can make inaccurate assumptions that the officer is PERT Clinician. Saying "I am a PERT trained officer," would be a more accurate distinction.


What credentials are required of PERT Clinicians?

Each of our clinical staff have a Master's Degree level of education or higher. PERT Clinicians are licensed in the State of California as health care professionals. These licenses include: Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT), Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), and Registered Nurse (RN).

Beyond attaining the competence of being granted a professional license, PERT Clinicians have extensive experience working with persons (and their family members) living with severe and persistent mental illness. PERT Clinicians are not law enforcement officers. You can identify a PERT Clinician by their light gray polo shirt (with PERT emblem) and black pants. PERT Clinicians always respond to clients accompanied with their law enforcement partner. PERT Clinicians are not hired by the law enforcement agencies. They are employed by Community Research Foundation (CRF) to provide services under the PERT program.


As a PERT unit consists of both a law enforcement officer and PERT Clinician, what are their respective roles?

PERT Clinicians ride their entire shift in a patrol car driven by their law enforcement partner. Since PERT is dispatched to offer assistance via the 911 or local non-emergency dispatch system, the officer (with the PERT Clinician as a passenger) drives to the scene where the person in crisis is located.  Upon arrival, the officer makes the initial contact and safety assessment (for the person in crisis and any potential bystanders). The PERT Clinician is then introduced and proceeds to conduct a mental health assessment to clarify the nature of the person's crisis and to explore available community resources that might help to refer the client. This process includes talking with 3rd party bystanders (such as a family member) to ensure a through overview and assessment of the circumstances. PERT Clinicians will ensure that the appropriate referrals are provided. For example, should the level of appropriate care involve additional assessment for possible treatment at a hospital, the client will be transported by the PERT unit. The PERT Clinician will communicate their assessment information to the hospital to assist them in their provision of care.