Sen. John Cornyn says Dallas is a "role model" for other cities, for its response to mental health 911 calls.
Why it matters: Cornyn is working to reauthorize the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act, which would increase funding to crisis intervention units and mental health response teams in law enforcement.
- The senator pointed to RIGHT Care as an example for others during a discussion Wednesday with the Dallas mayor, police chief and fire chief.
Context: In this fiscal year's budget, Dallas expanded RIGHT Care to each of the city’s patrol divisions to respond to mental health calls.
- RIGHT Care, short for "Rapid Integrated Group Healthcare Team," started as a pilot program in 2018.
Details: A team that includes a behavioral health clinician, a paramedic and police officer respond to mental health calls. Before the program, those calls would be handled by as many as four police officers and a patrol sergeant.
- People in crisis are "used to seeing police arrive. They're not used to seeing the face of a social worker," Kristin Peterson, the social work manager for RIGHT Care, said during the discussion Wednesday.
What they're saying: "When someone suffers from a mental health crisis, the last thing you want to do is slap handcuffs on them," Cornyn said during the event.