Austin ISD Police awarded grant to elevate mental health crisis responses

Austin ISD Police Unit

By Eduardo Villa

The Austin ISD Police Department was awarded a $248,245 grant from the ​​U.S. Department of Justice to hire its own Licensed Mental Health Professionals.

Why it matters: The grant will help expedite the response time for mental health crisis calls by having dedicated Licences Mental Health Professionals serve in the police department. 

By the numbers: Mental health calls have increased districtwide year over year. In the past five years, AISD PD reported a 63% increase in mental health crisis calls. 

  • This school year alone, the police department has responded to at least 10 mental health calls per week.

AISD PD currently partners with Integral Care to provide Licensed Mental Health Professionals when responding to crisis calls.

  • Integral Care serves the entire Travis County area and at times officers may see wait times for mental health professionals.

Go deeper: The grant will fund two contracted, part-time Licensed Mental Health Professionals to join the police department to respond and assess high-risk crisis calls. 

  • The grant will also support training around anti-biased and verbal de-escalation, and fund overtime for police officers.

The big picture: AISD PD has made investments in mental health previously. The police department has two mental health coordinators, and they provide mental health and crisis intervention training on a regular basis. 

  • All AISD police officers are certified mental health officers.