In 2019, City Council allocated $40,000 to research the feasibility of launching a program in Oakland modeled after Eugene Oregon Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) model, widely recognized as a non-law enforcement mobile crisis intervention that has seen significant success since its inception 31 years ago.
With the support of the Urban Strategies Council (USC), several stakeholder groups and community members, including people in Oakland’s most impacted communities, engaged in nine months of analysis to determine the best pathway forward. This work resulted in a recommendation for a pilot program in two geographic areas of Oakland.
The Oakland City Council determined during the March 2, 2021 City Council meeting that the City should house the 18-month pilot of the Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland (MACRO) program within the Fire Department. The Council subsequently adopted a Resolution No. 88553 to this effect on March 16, 2021. On the same day, the Administration provided an Informational Memo to the Mayor and City Council based on the March 2, 2021 direction, and a subsequent informational memo was issued in April 2021.
Intended MACRO Outcomes
- Decreased negative outcomes from law enforcement response to nonviolent 911 emergency calls, especially among Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC);
- Increased connections to community-based services for people in crisis, especially among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color;
- Redirection of MACRO-identified 911 calls to an alternative community response system;
- Reduced Oakland Police Department & Oakland Fire Department expenses and call volume related to 911 nonviolent calls involving people with behavioral health, substance use, and unsheltered individuals.
Five Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the projected launch date of the MACRO program?
The Program has its official "soft launch" on April 9, 2022.
What geographic areas will MACRO cover?
The pilot will initially launch in East and West Oakland.
- East Oakland MACRO Zone: High Street to the San Leandro Border Below Hwy 580 to the Estuary
- West Oakland MACRO Zone: Brush Street and West Grand to the Estuary
How many MACRO teams will be deployed and what will they respond to?
At the outset, there will be three teams working two shifts during the 18-month pilot. Offering 16 hours of service from (7 am – 11 pm). Funding is available to initially have three teams on two shifts, seven days a week with functioning hours of 07:00-3:00 pm and 3:00-11:00 pm, respectively.
The incident calls or “call types” will be focused on non-emergency, non-violent, low acuity “quality of life” calls. Meetings between OPD & OFD were convened to review incident types and trends for days/times for service call history in the geographic identified areas for the pilot.
MACRO Crews will respond to low acuity quality of life calls in three categories: (1) Behavioral Health Issues (2) Individual Well-Being (3) Community Disturbance:
Behavioral Health Issues
- Mental Health Concern (Low)
- Mental Health Challenge (Moderate)
- Indecent Exposure (Limited)
Individual Well Being
- Wellness Check
- Found Senile
- Intoxicated Group / Drunk in Public
- Noise Complaint (Auto, Music, etc.)
- Disorderly Juvenile (Individual or Group)
- Panhandling (Non-Aggressive)
When Should I call MACRO?
It is important to call MACRO at the onset of a behavioral health issue or when there is initial concern for a person's mental health & well-being. The earlier a MACRO team can begin an intervention the better chances are to de-escalate the challenge before an individual is in crisis.
When will MACRO be available to ALL of Oakland?
After thorough evaluation of the community's needs, addressing any safety issues, and a clear contingency plan, OFD will consider and plan for a 24/7 deployment with full city-wide coverage either toward the end of the pilot or once the pilot completes and all relevant data has been analyzed. The Fire Department will pursue utilizing at minimum 12 months’ worth of data to quantify hourly call volumes to plan for appropriate staffing.
Elliott Jones, Program Manager, MACRO, Oakland Fire Department, EJones3@oaklandca.gov
Vena Sword-Ratliff, Manager, Medical Services Division, Oakland Fire Department, Vswordfirstname.lastname@example.org