U.S. Department of Justice grant funds R.E.A.L. change in public safety
DALLAS — The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded the city a $250,000 grant to fund the salaries of two Outreach and Advocacy Specialists who will form a Long-Term Care Crisis Intervention Team program for two years, Mayor Eric Johnson and Police Chief Eddie Garcia announced Tuesday.
The creation of Crisis Intervention Teams is a national initiative for local law enforcement to initiate community partnerships with county health services, mental health advocates, and mental health consumers to address the mental health needs of those who enter the judicial system during a crisis. This Long-Term Care CIT program serves as an alternative to traditional police involvement with mental health and social service issues and provides care for people in need who otherwise become stuck in the criminal justice system’s cycle.
On average in Dallas, police have made approximately 7,250 emergency detention arrests that resulted in trips to a psychiatric facility. On average, 20% of those individuals are detained multiple times.
The Outreach and Advocacy Specialists will work in the Dallas Police Department’s Community Engagement Unit. They will work closely with police officers and the newly formed Office of Integrated Public Safety Solutions (OIPSS) to provide long-term care via social service referrals when mental health or other social needs are identified. That will reduce the burden on police officers and on Parkland Hospital, where detainees are traditionally taken for psychiatric monitoring.
“The Department of Justice has recognized that Dallas is committed to community policing and to addressing mental health issues,” Mayor Johnson said. “With the help of this grant, we can expand our efforts to build safer, kinder, and stronger communities in Dallas. We are grateful to Senator John Cornyn for his advocacy for Dallas, and we look forward to putting this team to work in our neighborhoods.”
The city’s new budget also calls for expanding the RIGHT Care program, and Mayor Johnson recently announced that the city received a $175,000 grant from the U.S. Conference of Mayors to supplement those efforts.
The specialists funded by the Department of Justice grant will complement existing teams within the OIPSS.
“Recognizing we cannot arrest our way out of violent crime, in the 2021 fiscal year Dallas planted the seeds for R.E.A.L. change,” said City Manager T.C. Broadnax. “This grant multiplies the impact of our investment in resources to alternative solutions that reduce harm and increase safety in our neighborhoods.”
“Our new Crisis Intervention Team will again demonstrate that the dedicated men and women of the Dallas Police Department care deeply about our community and that we are here to help,” said Chief Garcia. “Through crisis intervention and RIGHT Care, the Dallas Police Department is among the leaders in the nation with its thoughtful approach to dealing with mental health crises.”
“As part of the City Manager’s R.E.A.L. change initiative and reimagining public safety, the Office of Integrated Public Safety Solutions will oversee new crisis response teams, providing a humanistic approach to persons suffering from addiction, homelessness and mental health issues, and avoiding the criminalization of these human conditions,” said David Pughes, the director of the OIPSS.