Fort Worth PD creates new unit focusing on mental health calls

The death of a man shot by Fort Worth police has sparked an entire unit focused on mental health.

The officers' goal is to understand what to look for and follow up on mental health calls.

Training for domestic disturbance calls is nothing new. But now, Fort Worth police have a new resource: The Mental Health Crisis Intervention Team. Part of their job is to help recruits understand what to look for.

"The fact he has taken an entire bottle of Ambien that morning, he can't tell you he wants to commit suicide,” explained Officer Landon Rollins with the newly-formed unit. “He can't even talk if he took that much Ambien."

The crisis intervention team hits the streets every day to follow up on reports from real life incidents.

"That report will come to a Tarrant County mental health law liaison,” explained Fort Worth Police Sgt. Marc Povero. “That mental health law liaison, along with a CIT team officer, will do a follow up once a person is released from the hospital."

In April 2017, Fort Worth police shot and killed a 53-year-old man after he pointed a gun at officers. Police later learned they had made several mental health-related calls to the man's house, including seven attempted suicide calls.

Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald also responded to the incident.

"That was really the incident when the chief of police said, ‘we need to get this unit started right now,’” Povero said. "What we're really trying to do is intervene before someone with a mental health condition acted out in a threatening manner towards the public.”

The goal is to identify people who need help and get them help before it’s too late.