Mental Health Deputy Program
To improve the way law enforcement and the community respond to people experiencing mental health crisis.
To help resolve immediate mental health crisis and link the individuals to appropriate resources for ongoing assistance.
The Tom Green County Mental Health Unit consists of six certified peace officers which include a Sergeant, a Corporal and four Deputies. Mental Health Deputies responds to any location in Tom Green County, including the city of San Angelo. The Unit responds to calls for service involving individuals in mental health crisis, 24 hours a day, working with the local Mental Health Mental Retardation, as well as other Law Enforcement agencies.
The Mental Health Unit has two primary purposes:
- Responding to emergency calls involving mental health individuals in a mental crisis
- Diverting individuals from the criminal justice system and connecting them with mental health services.
The Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office Mental Health Unit is a group specifically trained to respond to persons in mental crisis. Each Mental Health Deputy is a licensed peace officer and has successfully completed the required Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) Mental Health Certification course. The Mental Health Deputies also go through a 12-week field training program. While in training, the Deputies learn the policies and procedures of the Mental Health Unit and the Sheriff’s Office. The Deputies attend training at the local Council of Government throughout the year on various topics.
Mental Health in Jail:
On any given day, between 25-30 percent of the inmates at the Tom Green County Jail suffer from mental illnesses. The majority of these inmates are in jail for non-violent offenses closely associated with their mental health issues and would be far better served by treatment rather than incarceration.
Mentally ill inmates cost more: Mentally ill inmates cost more than non–mentally ill inmates for a variety of reasons, including increased staffing needs. In Texas prisons “the average prisoner costs the state about $22,000 a year, but prisoners with mental illness range from $30,000 to $50,000 a year."
Process for Application
When the specially trained Mental Health Deputies determine that a person meets the criteria for emergency detention without a warrant, they will transport the person to a psychiatric facility or emergency room for further evaluation. The main criteria for the detention of a mentally ill person, with or without a warrant, is that the person must evidence an imminent, substantial risk of serious harm to self or others.
It is possible for a Justice of the Peace (a magistrate) to issue an Emergency Detention Warrant. However, the standard for issuance of such a warrant is the same as an emergency detention without a warrant. An application, along with other pertinent information, should be filed with a magistrate in the precinct where the patient resides.
If the magistrate determines the criteria for detention exists, then an emergency detention order is issued and the patient is transported to a mental health facility. However, it would be under rare and unusual circumstances for a magistrate to issue an emergency detention warrant after the mental health unit has refused to make a warrantless emergency detention. Not only because the detention criterion is the same, but because the magistrate relies heavily on the evaluation of these mental health professionals.
If the person is picked up under the emergency detention provisions, the mental health facility, upon evaluation, will either issue a physician's certificate for mental illness or discharge the proposed patient unless some other arrangement is made. The physician's certificate is essential for further detention of the person under the temporary mental health commitment laws of this state.
Tom Green County Justices of the Peace
- Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office: (325) 655-8111
- San Angelo Police Department: (325) 481-2696
- MHMR Crises Line: (325) 653-5933 or 1-800-375-8965 24 hours a day
- Crisis Intervention Unit: (325) 658-3921
- MHMR Respite: (325) 658-3961
- Rivercrest Hospital-1636 Hunters Glenn: (325) 949-5722
- Shannon Behavioral-2018 Pulliam Street: (325) 659-7300
- Shannon Hospital-120 East Harris Street: (325) 653-6741
- Community Hospital-3501 Knickerbocker Road: (325) 949-9511
As a family member or close friend, you are the one most likely to recognize when someone you love is approaching or in a crisis. Acting swiftly and effectively when you see warning signs of a developing emergency can produce better results than allowing the situation to deteriorate before acting.
If your instincts tell you a situation is dangerous, it probably is. CALL 911 immediately.