Cornyn Pushes Mental Health Bill, Praises Pharr PD’s Mental Health Division

PHARR — Senator John Cornyn visited the Pharr ONE Northside Center on Thursday for a roundtable discussion with local law enforcement, mental health providers and city officials.

Cornyn was in town to discuss justice and the Mental Health Reauthorization Act. This reauthorizes an expired grant program for mental health courts, crisis intervention teams, and other initiatives (such as Fermental Health Units) that help law enforcement assist individuals with mental illness.

After a roundtable closed to local media, Konin toured the Far ONE Northside Center before hosting a press conference, praising the Far Police Department’s Mental Health Unit.

“To come back to Farr and really celebrate the initiative and the great work that’s happening in a relatively small city knowing that the resources to do innovative things like what’s happening here today are not normally available. It’s great,” Konin said.

The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act introduced by Cornyn increases funding authorization from $50 million to $60 million annually. The bill passed the Senate unanimously on June 23 . It is currently awaiting consideration in the House of Representatives.

“One thing we could do was introduce a bill called the Justice and Mental Health Cooperation Reauthorization Act, recognizing that law enforcement encounters people with mental health problems. ‘ said Konin. “Frankly, unless they are trained to defuse that confrontation, it can be dangerous not only for the police officers, but also for the individual who called 911.”

“It’s great to see innovation happening here,” the senator added.

Cornyn said his bill aims to reduce the burden on law enforcement officers who may find themselves in untrained mental health situations.

Senator John Cornyn (right) attends a roundtable with law enforcement and mental health professionals in Farr, Thursday, August 18, 2022. (Frank Jimenez | Monitor)

Pharr PD’s Mental Health Unit was founded in December 2020 in partnership with Tropical Texas Behavioral Health, just months after Andy Harvey took over as Police Chief.

“The roundtable was very informative and it was nice to hear the views from the federal government,” Harvey said after Thursday’s event. They were telling us what they were watching or what they were talking about, because we need their help, and we can’t do this alone. We need help, we need cooperation with other agencies like Tropical and the District Attorney’s Office.

Harvey said the roundtable was an opportunity to highlight his department’s success in the mental health sector and its importance not only to maintaining current competencies, but to allowing them to grow and improve. said.

“We have come this far. It is now important that we continue to provide a higher level of service, but as a law enforcement agency we cannot do it alone.” We have to work with the stores, and that’s how we impact not only our city, but our community.”

Terry Crocker, CEO of Tropical Texas Behavioral Health, who attended the roundtable, said Cornyn’s visit bodes well for future fundraising.

“When we get attention, especially from elected officials at the federal level, it increases the chances of withdrawing federal funding to do more and different things and expand on what we are already doing very well,” Crocker said. said. “Having the support of the senators is of the utmost importance.”

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