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Bexar County Connect and Protect Program

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $550,000)

Bexar County, Texas (includes the city of San Antonio) is a predominately working class, Latino, South Texas community of more than two million individuals.  Bexar County is not unlike any other community in which individuals with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorder (SUD) are criminalized.  The majority of these individuals will have a substance use disorder and/or a diagnosible mental illness.  

In 2020, Bexar County implemented the SMART Program (Specialized Multidisciplinary Alternate Response Team).  The SMART team responds to non-violent mental health 911 phone calls and is comprised of a crisis response clinician, paramedic, and a sheriff's deputy.  In its first three months of existence, the SMART team responded to 140 calls for service.  One third (33%) of calls were resolved on scene and 16% resulted in a non-criminal justice emergency detention.  The SMART Program has yet to be expanded to a 24/7 operation.  

For Year One, Bexar County will subcontract with a strategic planner whose sole purpose will be to convene the major stakeholders in the field of criminal justice and behavioral health with an emphasis on crisis care.  The planner and stakeholders will engage in regular training and technical assistance activities with the BJA technical assistance partner and the Bexar County planner will be responsible for crafting a three year strategic plan.  

Based on the results of Year One planning, Bexar County would like to expand its existing SMART Program into a 24/7 operation that includes evenings, weekends, and holidays.  Triage criteria has already been developed for use by Bexar County Dispatch.  The target population are individuals experiencing a mental health crisis that are otherwise non-violent and in need of immediate intervention and access to treatment.  The ultimate goal of the response is to effectively treat the patient using the least restrictive approach with the clinical team at the forefront.  The SMART Program is similar to the widely cited "Memphis Model" Crisis Intervention Team (CIT).  

The capability and experience of the Protect and Connect Program stakeholder have already been established.  Taken as a whole, all stakeholders have demonstrated subject matter expertise along with the racial/ethnic characteristics of the target population as well as the bilingual/bicultural capacity required for work in a diverse community.  Bexar County is committed to a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the program that focuses on outcomes versus outputs.

Date Created: September 30, 2022