The Irving Police Department introduced Thursday its new Mental Health Response team who'll help respond to emergency calls related to mental health.
The team, made up of officers and a clinician, will respond to mental health emergency calls and help determine the most appropriate action.
“More and more of our officers time has been devoted to responding to calls for service related to persons suffering from a mental health crisis,” said Irving Police Chief Jeff Spivey. “The need for this team has never been greater. Our response to the mental health crisis could not remain status quo. The demands on the time of our first responders was too great and took them away from their other responsibilities."
The officers have gone through specific training to learn how to perform a mental health assessment as well as lowering the stress level in a tense situation.
The department partnered up with several different agencies to create the unit and visited with officers in other cities that have similar programs in place.
Spivey pointed to 2018 statistics in the news conference, saying the Irving Police Department saw a 17 percent increase in calls related to mental health, and an 18 percent increase in mental health apprehensions where officers determined a person is in a mental health crisis.