Sunday, September 30, 2018

Austin PD shoots too many mental-health patients, Top Bexar jailer resigns amidst crime spree by subordinates, and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that deserve Grits readers' attention:

Top Bexar jailer resigns amidst crime spree by subordinates
The SA Express-News reported that the top supervisor at the Bexar County Jail has resigned "amid a troubling year for the Sheriff’s Office, which has struggled with escape attempts from the jail and the arrest of 20 deputies on a variety of criminal charges, including domestic abuse, assaulting inmates and driving while intoxicated." Good Lord! Local jails deserve a lot more media attention.

Austin PD shoots too many mental-health patients
Austin PD has "the highest per capita rate of fatal police shootings involving persons believed to be experiencing a mental health crisis" among comparable cities studied, according to a recent audit. The probe also found, according to the Austin Monitor, that "the department did not track and review crisis intervention incidents to improve outcomes and was not providing what are considered the best-practice elements in its training of crisis intervention officers." Moreover, "APD dispatchers were not automatically sending one of APD’s mental health officers to lead in responding to mental health-related calls." See also Austin Statesman coverage. The Austin Justice Coalition has been urging the city to stop using APD as the lead agency on mental-health calls, using an approach being piloted in conjunction with the Meadows Foundation in Dallas - a matter on which the find themselves in agreement with Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn, interestingly enough. 

Criminalization on behalf of public health
San Antonio has banned tobacco products for youth under 21, while the statewide ban ends at age 18. It's indisputable youth starting smoking later will save lives, so it's hard to dispute the move. But as mentioned in the discussion over marijuana punishments, I do wish there was some way besides criminal fines to regulate business activity in Texas.

More McLennan cases languishing
Not only will  the incoming McLennan County District Attorney have to deal with the Twin Peaks biker fiasco, the Waco Tribune Herald reported that there are hundreds of prostitution cases - mostly men charged with Class B misdemeanors - which have been sitting idle and in many cases, un-filed at all. Outgoing DA Abel Reyna appears to have just stopped dealing with the cases after he lost his re-election bid in March, judging by the timeline in the story.

10 comments:

Will said...

Austin has the Austin State Hospital within its city limits and probably others that once existed and others that I'm unaware of. The mental-health patients, consumers or crazies (which ever your flavor) leave the mental-health facilities and have no other place to go or family willing to take them back. Therefore many of the mental-health patients stay, breed, commit crime, etc in Austin so it should be no surprise to anyone that Austin PD has to encounter those mental-health patients resulting in injury or death.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

If true, that's all the more reason, Will, to implement the Meadows Foundation plan to have MH professionals take the lead on those calls instead of cops.

Creator_of_SOFAQ SOFAQ said...

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Anonymous said...

I say let the Meadows Foundation plan be the lead on those mental health calls. I propose taking it a step further and allowing the mental health professionals be the only one to contact the mental-health patients, while the officers wait in or near their patrol cars. I imagine the non-uniformed response would probably result in some of the mental-health workers being injured or killed, but at least the mental-health patients will not be harmed by the police. (Sarcasm)

Anonymous said...

If Austin PD is shooting more people in "mental crisis," is that why the legislature avoids getting together in one place except for every other year?

Anonymous said...

Please be advised: You will see some lame duck last minute maneuvers from outgoing DA Abel Reyna in hopes that SOMEBODY in State government will give him a new job.

Anonymous said...

I would not even hire DA Abel Reyna to fix a flat on a wheelbarrow much less as an attorney! The guy has a very serious Napoleon complex which received care and feeding as he ran the McLennan county courthouse as a casino with his finger on the Scales of Justice and his hand in the property room coke stash. Where is that FBI investigator assigned to this mess anyway?

Anonymous said...

I would not even hire DA Abel Reyna to fix a flat on a wheelbarrow much less as an attorney! The guy has a very serious Napoleon complex which received care and feeding as he ran the McLennan county courthouse as a casino with his finger on the Scales of Justice and his hand in the property room coke stash. Where is that FBI investigator assigned to this mess anyway?

Anonymous said...

Abel Renya was aggressive and that I liked more so than the bozo Henry Garza in Bell County. Lots of crime in Bell County. If you averaged them two DA's out, you'd have an on par DA.

Kathy Mitchell said...

No need for sarcasm. This has been field tested successfully. In Dallas, the mental health professionals are the only ones to directly interact with the person in crisis and there have not been issues with the safety of those folks, nor have they killed anyone with mental illness. Overall, the model is a success across many fronts. We should always be looking for ways to make people safer, and this is a good one.