DeSoto Care Team Expands Across Best Southwest

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Dallas County Grant Allows DeSoto Care Team To Expand

DESOTO – The DeSoto Care Team is extending its reach to all the Best Southwest in the months ahead.

The DeSoto Care Team is part of the DeSoto Police Department and consists of a mental health police officer, social worker, clinician, medical support person, and victims’ assistance.

Overall, the mission of the team has been to “focus on providing support and referral to individuals experiencing mental health and substance use/abuse challenges.”

In spring 2021, Dallas County awarded $1.8 million dollars to the DeSoto Care Team in order to create the ability for the team to expand its reach throughout the entire Best Southwest.

The expansion will include the cities of Cedar Hill, Duncanville, Lancaster, and Glenn Heights, beginning in May 2022.

This regional task force will provide staffing, equipment, and mental health & de-escalation police training for the Regional CARE Team. The team will be located in a central location, which will allow for a strong team synergy and professional creativity.

While the DeSoto CARE Team members do not respond to 9-1-1 calls, the unit does intervene before and after a crisis in order to lessen the need for emergency police response, unnecessary hospitalizations and the criminalization of those with behavioral health needs.

Regional Expansion Will Help Communities Reduce Strain On Some Resources

“The Crisis Assessment Resource Engagement (CARE) Team is working hard to prevent the need to use the 9-1-1 emergency system for behavioral health. This follow-up work of education, navigation, self-advocacy, and referral is vital to realizing a world where community members know how and where to access resources to meet their needs. This will, in effect, decrease police response to those experiencing mental illness and substance use challenges and engage them with services more appropriate to their need,” said Unit Coordinator of the DeSoto CARE Team and its founder Lieutenant Melissa Franks.

Franks applied for the original grant to create the DeSoto Care Team in late 2020. She applied for the New Directions Grant from Dallas County to help support the team and the regional expansion.

Franks applied for the original grant to create the DeSoto Care Team in late 2020. She applied for the New Directions Grant from Dallas County to help support the team and the regional expansion.

During the first two quarters of the grant period as well the DeSoto Care Team engaged 126 individuals though the use of 541 personalized services. Already the team has been expanding its reach to other Best Southwest cities as resources have been available.

Also in 2021, in recognition of her hard work, Franks was the recipient of the “Charley H. Shannon Advocate for Justice Award” from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas. The award, given for “visionary leadership in improving legislation, laws, and conditions of the mental health arena,” recognized the work Franks has done and the progressive efforts of the DeSoto CARE Team overall.

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