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City of Bryan, Texas

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    July 29, 2021

    Bryan Police Department forms Mental Health Unit

    In an effort to meet community needs, the Bryan Police Department formed a Mental Health Unit in April 2021.

    Across the country, there has been a significant increase in the awareness of law enforcement interactions with people suffering from mental illness. These interactions often turn violent based on a lack of trust from the mental health consumer with law enforcement. The BPD Mental Health Unit officers have obtained extensive training and are equipped to deescalate a situation to prevent a violent confrontation between a mental health consumer and law enforcement. Officers work collaboratively with the community and local mental health authorities to divert people in mental health crisis from jails to behavioral treatment facilities.

    The unit is comprised of three officers who have received specific training on how to help people who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. Mental Health Unit officers respond to call for service that directly involve mental health consumers in crisis. Additionally, these officers build a bond with mental health consumers through occasional home visits and follow-up phone contacts. During these contacts officers will ensure mental health consumers are not in crisis, make scheduled doctor’s visits, and are taking prescribed medications. The departments hopes that by taking a proactive approach, it can reduce the number of police interactions with mental health consumers in the community who are in crisis.

    Because there are only three officers assigned to the Mental Health Unit, and they will not be working 24 hours, 7 days a week, the Bryan Police Department also provided Mental Health Peace Officer training to 30 additional officers. This training focused on recognition of persons in crisis, communication skills, and de-escalation techniques. With this training, these officers will be able to provide a more in-depth response to mental health calls when the Mental Health Unit is not available.

    To date, the Mental Health Unit has responded to 112 calls for service involving mental health consumers in crisis. They have completed 73 home visits and conducted 191 follow-up phone contacts.

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