Homeland Security

Funding for Border Region Behavioral Health Center

Proposal

Request for funding for the Border Region Behavioral Health Center (BRBHC) for Law Enforcement resources regarding ED and Medical Clearances requests under Police custody and supervision.

Background

Police encounters are believed to be particularly dangerous for people with mental illness and police officers, little known about the details of these interactions including the occurrence of injuries, despite numerous research, studies and media reports, it can be equally, if not more dangerous for people with mental illness. This fear of dangerousness has been the basis for the creation of specialized interventions such as Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT).

The FBI reported that 1,114 officers nationally were assaulted during a call responding to a person with mental illness in 2007. The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model is possibly the best known and most widely adopted model for improving police response to persons with mental illness. It is a police-based, pre-booking approach with specially trained officers who provide first-line response to calls involving a person with mental illness and who act as liaisons to the mental health system.

The Laredo Police Department has 43 (13%) certified CIT officers including investigators & supervisors out of a total of 312 patrolmen who handle service calls and interact with mentally ill citizens.

Measuring police responses to people with metal issues can be difficult for police departments and researchers alike, in lieu of often officers do not record police encounters that end with informal dispositions or mild injuries, although a person who has a mental illness is most likely to come in contact with the police when they are symptomatic and are deemed a danger to themselves or others.

The current protocol that LPD and Border Region Behavioral Health Center (BRBHC) is on a courtesy, verbal and unofficial agreement when persons in need of mental assessment are required to undergo a Medical Clearance from a local hospital and later require an Emergency Detention application filed.

The cultural shift towards the mentally ill population better response and handling is changing proactively versus populating county jails with them. A study estimated that just under 4% of American adults were severely mentally ill but generated 10% of calls for polices services. They occupy at least one in five prison and jail beds. A fractured mental health system with cutbacks in financing for mental health services has the effect of putting police officers in the front lines of dealing with many people who have psychiatric disorders. Jails around the county have filed with mentally ill inmates who, unable to obtain treatment in the community, are arrested time and again for minor offenses.

Police departments require crisis training for all or most of their officers; it brings a level of accountability to the community, in addition to allegations of excessive force declines when officers are properly trained in this field.

A cost analysis of resources and man/hours of the Laredo Police Department incurs handling Emergency Detention and Medical Clearances averages from the high of $884 employing nine (9) officers on two hour rotation for the duration of 18 hours on single incident in 2015 to the minimum of one hour at $49.00.

During 2014 the LPD handled 131 calls for service on Emergency Detention (ED) requests at $26,000.00 and 122 ED service calls consuming $24,215.00 approximately in 2015. The analysis of the month of March 2016 resulted in 11 ED calls for service, resulting in the average of 4 man hours/call resulting in $8,756.00 for the month.

With the intention to reduce, restrict and prevent expenses and deplete important police personnel from their crime prevention and servicing the public's requests; the LPD and BRBHC management enacted two initiatives.

  1. The implementation of the Mobil Crisis Outreach Team (MCOT) which consists of a nurse and a qualified mental health professional-community services (QMHP-CS) to be available and respond to the site where the mental illness individual with police officers and make the necessary assessments recommendation.
  2. Pilot project to pair a CIT certified police officer and a Mental Health assessor nurse to visit repeat patients on the community with the purpose of saving costs and referrals to the Behavioral Health Center.

It is the position of the Laredo Police Department to request additional funding and resources for the Laredo community, as the National landscape calls for a better understanding and care of these individuals. In addition, to facilitate Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, and certification either by monetary funding and/or 'train the trainer' seminars, to encompass as least 75% of the Patrol force.

Contact

Raymond E. Garner
Chief of Police
4712 Maher Avenue
Laredo, Texas 78041
Phone: (956) 795-2888
Fax: (956) 795-3120
Email: rgarner@ci.laredo.tx.us