Austin ISD pays licensed mental health professionals to join the district police department

AUSTIN (KXAN)—The Austin Independent School District earned $248,245 in federal grants to recruit licensed mental health professionals (LMHPs) to join the police department.

According to the region, the grant will fund two contracted, part-time LMHPs who will respond to and evaluate high-risk crisis calls that include things like trauma, mental health and suicide.

The District believes that additional crisis response support will result in safer solutions for all involved and will provide officers with live crisis response experience alongside a licensed professional. This comes as district police are seeing an increase in mental health calls.

“Incidences of domestic violence and child abuse have increased, and some of our calls are about that and other calls are just people having a hard time coping,” said Sergeant Wayne Sneed, who heads the department’s mental health division.

Sneed has been advocating for this change for the past ten years.

The district says another goal of the two staff additions is to continue non-biased education and verbal stress reduction techniques. The AISD Police Department hopes to develop training videos and materials in partnership with LMHPs and put them on an online platform for officer training..

The funding comes from: U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Policing Services As part of the Community Policing Development program.

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