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Cornyn Calls Dallas A Role Model For Mental Health Response

Sen. Cornyn meeting with Dallas Fire Chief Artis and Police Chief Garcia.

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.

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