Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office Launches Crisis Call Diversion Program to Enhance Mental Health Response

Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office Launches Crisis Call Diversion Program to Enhance Mental Health Response

January 29 2024

The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office (FBCSO) has marked a significant milestone with the initiation of a pioneering Crisis Call Diversion Program (CCD), made possible by a funding award of $349,616 from the FY 2022 COPS Implementing Crisis Intervention Teams. This advantageous award was funded through the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

This new pilot project, developed in collaboration with the local mental health authority, Texana, integrates mental health professionals within the 911 call center to handle low-risk mental health calls that do not necessitate a law enforcement response. This innovative approach aims to deliver immediate professional mental health dialogue for individuals or families encountering a non-life-threatening crisis by either diverting the call to professional counseling or referring it to a specific service provider. However, according to FBCSO, in the event of an emergency, crisis calls will be directed to first responders.

Made possible through the cooperative foundation built between the FBCSO and Texana since 2015, they previously designed programs such as the Crisis Intervention Team and the Co-Responder Program, which included Texana behavioral health professionals accompanying a member of the Crisis Intervention Team. The CCD Program complements these initiatives and aims to assist community members living with mental illness by delivering a more appropriate and proactive response that reduces the need for law enforcement intervention.

This novel CCD Program was designed after closely analysing the operational framework of the Houston Police Dispatch Center. A team from both Texana and the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office scrutinized data from FBCSO’s Dispatch Center, Crisis Intervention Team, and the Fort Bend Behavioral Health Department, to identify which calls could be classed as low risk and safe for behavioral health call takers to manage. The grant further funds two positions for personnel provided by Texana. According to FBCSO, these professionals undergo rigorous training with Texana and law enforcement to gain an exhaustive understanding of crisis de-escalation techniques and overall response to persons in crisis.

Commenting on the CCD program, Sheriff Eric Fagan said, "The CCD exemplifies our commitment to community well-being, demonstrating that through collaboration and innovation, we can provide enhanced and compassionate support to those navigating mental health crises. Together, we forge a path towards a safer, more resilient Fort Bend County."

By Tiffany Krenek, My Neighborhood News 
Tiffany Krenek has been on the My Neighborhood News team since August 2021. She is passionate about curating and sharing content that enriches the lives of our readers in a personal, meaningful way. A loving mother and wife, Tiffany and her family live in the West Houston/Cypress region.

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