September 17, 2021
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Cahoots Program advancing to Cotati-Rohnert Park

By: Brittney Scardina
July 30, 2021

The Cahoots program has been discussed within the Cotati City Council since being presented to them in May 2021. The program is on its way to making a difference in Cotati and Rohnert Park.

During their meeting on July 27, Cotati City Council discussed how they would be taking the steps that follow the foundation of the Cahoots program. These steps will include developing the final budget and program details for a joint Cotati-Rohnert Park Cahoots model of mental health and homelessness intervention.

Cotati and Rohnert Park continue to move forward with the Cahoots program to serve the community to have the direct response for the right situations with mobile crisis response. This crisis response team will be referred to as SAFE, Specialized Assistance for Everyone.

The Cahoots program originally started in Eugene, Oregon, in 1989 as an innovative public safety system to provide mental health first response for a crisis involving mental response, homelessness, addiction and many other situations.

The Cahoots team consists of a two-person team, a medic and a crisis worker with substantial training or experience in the mental health field. They will handle a wide range of mental health-related crises and non-emergency medical issues.

The Cahoots staff are not police officers and do not carry weapons. They will be dispatched through 911 or a non-emergency line for issues that do not involve an immediate safety threat to the individual in crisis or the general public.

The Cahoots program has been a considerable success for Petaluma since they began operating an initial pilot, SAFE, over the July 4th weekend. They had eighty-one calls in two weeks. Petaluma has expressed that they would be willing to work and help Cotati and Rohnert Park with their program.

Mayor John C. Moore comments on how he believes it is a wonderful program and how it stands out. “I think the thing that really stands out to me about this concept and program is crisis intervention and to help those people who need the help but don’t necessarily need the police services, so I think that will be tremendous,” said Moore.

Council members Ben Ford, Laura Sparks, and Susan Harvey were all in full support and excited about Cotati, Rohnert Park and SSU coming together on this program. The support from Petaluma also contributes to a significant step forward of other communities working together to make this happen.

A member of the community, Marjorie, spoke up during public comments about how she is ecstatic for this program to come to Cotati and Rohnert Park. Cotati and Rohnert Park need this, and she thanks the council for the support of this program.

Jenny Blaker also spoke during public comments about how amazing it is that the program is moving forward quickly with much progress. “This sounds amazingly impressive,” said Blaker.

Chief Parish, the Chief of Police in Cotati, mentions during the discussion how his department is looking forward to the program and will be ready to support the SAFE team.

The City of Cotati wants to make sure a program such as Cahoots will be successful for the community and is taking steps to follow through by creating the foundation for their Cahoots program. For those interested in attending future meetings, the times and agenda are posted on the City of Cotati website, under the Cotati City Council section.