Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,000,000)
According to the 2015 Meadow Mental Health Policy Institute review, Bexar County had an estimated 500,000 people suffering from some level of Mental Health need. 60,000 of those were adults with serious Mental Illness and around 2,600 were “super-utilizers”. These 2,600 cases each year of super-utilizers (most with substance use disorders) are “at highest risk of using jails, hospitals, emergency rooms, or homeless services.”
The MHU has recently been tasked to respond to an increasing number of active scenes ranging from Barricaded Subjects, Suicides in Progress and Escalated Crisis Calls to name a few. This has required the 10 MHU officers and 1 supervisor to be on Stand-by for responses beyond their normal duty hours and weekends.
Recent events in the nation have created a consolidated call for improved and non-confrontational police services, particularly for individuals who are suffering mental illness. This program will assist in adding trained individuals to the Department’s Mental Health Unit (MHU), increase coverage of the Unit through overtime, as well as increase training provided to Cadets in the Training Academy as well as active Police Officers, and to other outside agencies.
This project will expand the services being provided to meet this growing need as well as accomplishing two priorities. First, it continues to strengthen the Department’s commitment to improve services to the community by assisting, rather than arresting, individuals who are in a mental health crisis. Secondly, this fits in with the most recent calls to improve policing, services to individuals suffering from mental illness, and seek alternatives (diversion to the appropriate medical care facility/services) in lieu of arrest.
This funding will be used to create weekend coverage for the Mental Health Unit. Currently the MHU hours of operation are Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. After 5:00 p.m. and on weekends, there is no personnel available to assist patrol with any of the 20,682 mental health related calls for service the San Antonio Police Department received at night and on weekends in 2020. This Funding would allow an additional 5 clinicians and overtime hours to allow SAPD MHU officers to work on the weekends. If awarded this funding, the MHU will be available to assist on upwards of 6,984 mental health related calls that come in on the weekends, or over 25% of total mental health related calls. This will greatly increase the unit’s effectiveness and overall ability to assist patrol.