TEMPLE, TX — Knowing how a mental health crisis can tear a family apart personally, James Arnold, the director of adult mental health at Central Counties Services, was excited to partner with the Temple Police Department in the world-wide initiative, the One Mind Campaign.
“One week ago [was] the 15th anniversary of my brother’s suicide,” he explained. “So if we reach one person or 500 next year, it’s gonna be monumental not only to us but to the families and the person involved.”
His company receives state funding, some of which will be allocated to employing an additional staff member to work with Temple PD.
The staff member will work Monday through Friday for now and respond to mental health or crisis calls with officers when the situation is deemed safe.
“Sometimes the best ability that someone can have is availability,” Arnold continued. “And so that really breaks the barriers of waiting for people to call our hotline.”
Chief Shawn Reynolds says between July 2015 and July 2020, the department received about 5,400 mental health calls. That's nearly 1,000 calls a year or about 42 minutes to an hour and a half on each call the department responded to, according to the police chief.
“We know that [officers'] interactions with those that have behavioral health or mental health emergencies can often be quite dangerous,” Chief Reynolds said. “So in order to reduce that, you have to think outside the box and re-imagine how you're going to do things slightly different.”
Along with partnering with a local mental health agency, the One Mind Campaign requires each department to pledge to train all of its sworn-in officers and additional staff in mental health and crisis response.
“Our mission statement is to protect, serve, and work with our community to prevent, reduce and solve crime with integrity, honor and dedication. I believe this is one necessary step for both the police department as well as CCS to be able to provide quality service to those that need it at a time that's most proximate to the crisis,” Chief Reynolds said.
When asked about the law of trust between law enforcement and communities, the police chief said he believes this program will help bridge the gap and hopefully regain trust from those who they serve.
“My hope is that we raise the expectations of both officers and the community members, and we can provide a higher level of service,” Chief Reynolds said.
He encourages anyone in the community with questions, concerns or input to call or stop by the department. He says he’s never turned anyone away and is always up for a conversation.
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