A mobile team that supports law enforcement responding to mental health emergencies has expanded to west Sonoma County and the Sonoma Valley.

The Sonoma County Mobile Support Team is part of the Department of Health Services’ Behavioral Health Division. It already responds to mental health emergencies in support of law enforcement agencies in Windsor, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati and Petaluma.

The expansion, which started Jan. 15, includes Sebastopol, Graton, Forestville, Rio Nido, Guerneville, Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Boyes Hot Springs and Sonoma.

The team aims to link individuals in crisis to needed resources, decreases negative outcomes, increases the safety of law enforcement and connects people to services that best meets their needs after a mental health crisis.

Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who launched the team in 2012 after a four-year effort, praised the expansion to west and south Sonoma County.

“However, our work doesn’t stop here, and to sustain this program over the long term, we’ll need to identify additional funding sources for MTS and other critical behavioral health services,” Zane said.

Sheriff Mark Essick said the mobile support team has been “a great mental resource for deputies in the field handling crisis situations.”

Story originally published by Bay City News.