AUSTIN (KXAN) — Days after the ambush attack in Dallas that killed five officers, then-Dallas Chief of Police David Brown said, “We’re asking cops to do too much in this country. We are. We’re just asking us to do too much. Every societal failure we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, let the cop handle it.”
Laura Wilson-Slocum with Integral Care, a local mental health group, says we have to recognize the role of law enforcement and that they are public safety experts. At Integral Care, the crisis teams are mental health experts.
“When a person is experiencing a crisis, it’s paramount that first responders on scene secure safety and do what they do best which is the public safety aspect,” explains Wilson-Slocum. “Once the scene is secured and they recognize that the person could be experiencing a mental health crisis, that’s when they would dispatch the mobile crisis teams from Integral Care to come out an provide that mental health expertise.”
Police agree that more mental health training is needed to help de-escalate certain situations.
“The de-escalation, communication skills that we teach in this section definitely impact our officers and how we respond to all scenes involving the mentally ill,” says Austin Senior Police Officer James Turner.