The Los Angeles Police Department has begun a program to dispatch a mental health response team, consisting of a sworn officer and a Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health clinician, to certain mental health calls, Assistant Chief Horace Frank announced this week.

The program, which is led by the police department's Mental Evaluation Unit, launched on Monday, Frank told the Police Commission.

The unit's Systemwide Mental Assessment Response Team, consisting of a mental health clinician and sworn officer, will respond to mental health calls that meet specific criteria, according to Frank. Previously, SMART units were used as secondary responders, but will now serve as co-responders with patrol units for certain calls, CNS reports.

“One of the benefits of this to officers is that it allows us to begin that de-escalation process as quickly as possible,'' he said.