Lubbock police paired with civilian mental health experts in new Community Crisis Intervention Team

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 5:13 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2021 at 9:02 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Lubbock City Council has approved an agreement between the Lubbock Police Department and StarCare Specialty Health System to form the Lubbock Community Crisis Intervention Team (LCCIT), which allows trained civilian mental health professionals to ride with a police officer, also trained in mental health issues, to a call for such help.

“It connects that person with resources that otherwise we wouldn’t be able to,” Assistant Chief Nathan White told the Council. “A lot of times what we’re left with is the option of making an arrest, which sometimes includes a use-of-force incident. Those are things we want to avoid.”

StarCare CEO Beth Lawson said in the council meeting on June 22 that public jails often become a de facto mental health institution. She said the LCCIT will provide the appropriate diversion.

“We can help them from going to an emergency room, from going to jail or from going downtown to the courthouse and we can really help them get the services they need sometimes before it becomes that imminent risk to health or life and safety,” Lawson said.

The contract between the two entities is through August of 2022. It says the StarCare personnel will wear a ballistic vest while in a patrol vehicle or when responding to calls.

“It’s absolutely an innovation in care for people who have mental health issues,” Lawson said. “We know that in co-responding, the police can do what the police do, and that is keep the scene safe. Then the mental health professionals can do what the mental health professionals do, which is help people get the help they need.”

The City of Lubbock and StarCare are required to pay for their staff and each will provide funding through respective budgets. LCCIT expenses could also be from grants or other donations.

The existence of the LCCIT and other ongoing efforts could themselves save taxpayer money.

“We’re actually working with the [Lubbock County] Sheriff and the police department and working together to see if we can’t have some diversion at the front end of booking and helping people actually get to Sunrise Canyon Hospital or into another one of the psychiatric hospitals, as opposed to actually be booked into the jail,” Lawson said. “We know it’s a huge expense to the community and to the taxpayer when people are served in a higher-cost, more intense, less appropriate alternative.”

The Council unanimously approved the LCCIT agreement. You can see the contract here.

“It’s been a long time coming and something we’ve worked on for a while,” White said. “We’re really, really excited and look forward to getting this off the ground.”

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