AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin police responded to more mental health related calls in 2012 and said they need more mental health officers.
At Monday's Public Safety Commission meeting, Sergeant Michael King said APD responded to 9,832 mental-health related calls in 2012 and roughly 12 percent of those calls involved the homeless population.
"There are limited resources in the mental health community," said Miller. "If someone can't find resources , we're the last person they call and we end up dealing with those individuals."
APD only has six full-time crisis intervention officers and one sergeant. 144 additional officers are trained to respond to mental health calls. The department is asking for more mental health officers, but said the real issue is what happens after the person comes in contact with an officer.
"The system is not set up in a way that individuals who are suffering from mental illness get real long term treatment," said Miller. "We'd love to have more crisis intervention officers who are trained to deal with people who are in a crisis- suffering from mental illness- so we can try to refer them to get treatment so we can ultimately help these individuals heal."
A woman named Ginger has been homeless on Austin's streets for close to five months, after she fled an abusive relationship in New Mexico.
"I was kind of like the new kid on the block, but after a while, I ended up making a lot of really good friends and they watched out for me and the Trinity Center saved my life," Ginger said.
Ginger was assigned a case worker and got treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bi-polar Disorder. She is also part of the Safe Sleeping Program for Women and considers herself one of the lucky ones, but said mental health officials need to do more.
"The resources need to get out there and be more available to people," said Ginger. "I want to get off the street, and I want a roof over my head."
APD is also keeping track of crime in Downtown Austin as it relates to the city's transient population. They said 35 percent of violent crimes Downtown in 2012 involved a transient as a victim or a suspect.
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