CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — The Cedar Park Police Department and Bluebonnet Trails Community Services are partnering to form the department’s own mental health unit. This in response to an increased number of mental health calls.
Chief of Police Michael Harmon said since 2018 the department has seen an increase in calls from people experiencing a mental health crisis.
Data provided by Cedar Park Police shared how many mental health service calls were made in the few years:
- 2018 – 707 calls
- 2019 – 791 calls
- 2020 – 978 calls
- 2021 – 1,146 calls
Harmon said finding resources for those callers will now fall to a dedicated unit of one sergeant, four officers and two mental health professionals from Bluebonnet Trails.
“We’re essentially cutting out the middle man,” said Harmon.
He indicated before this plan, officers tending to these calls could be taken out of service for hours as they searched for the best place to take the person in crisis.
“It could take 20 minutes to two, to three, to four hours that an officer is involved in that service,” said Harmon.
Now that Bluebonnet Trails professionals will be staffed at the department, getting the caller to a treatment facility will be expedited.
Andrea Richardson, executive director for Bluebonnet Trails, said her agency is excited to partner with the police department.
She said this measure will help callers get the assistance they need more efficiently than ever before.
“There’s not just the law enforcement side of it, but it’s the safety side of it,” said Richardson. “The whole package.”
Harmon said this unit should debut in the early months of 2023.