The Continued Efforts of Baytown’s Mental Health Unit
Bayton Health Center

(Baytown, TX) Baytown police mental health officers average at least one call a day in recent weeks, with more than half of those calls result in a person being involuntarily committed for mental health evaluation.

Assistant Police Chief Mike Holden told members of the Baytown Police Advisory Committee about the number of mental health responses. In August, police responded to 34 mental health calls, with 22 resulting in emergency detention orders, which are necessary for involuntary commitment. In September there were 38 calls with 24 emergency detention orders. So far in October there were 21 calls and 11 emergency detention orders.

In some cases, the subject of a mental health call voluntarily agrees to hospitalization. Those are not counted as emergency detention orders.

Holden said that Stringer is looking for grant funding for a civilian employee to follow up on mental health calls to reduce the number of people who have repeated contact with the police. He said that person would work much like the two civilian crime victim advocates now employed by the department using grant money.

Mental health was one of the first priorities of the police advisory committee, which was formed as one of the responses to the shooting of a mentally ill woman by a Baytown police officer in May of 2019.

The department has created a mental health unit consisting of officers on each shift who receive advanced training in addition to the training all officers receive in dealing with mentally ill individuals.

Another part of the response was the deployment of computer pads that allow officers to speak directly with a mental health clinician any time of the day or night to help respond to situations. Holden said that was used seven times in August and four times in September, resulting in emergency detention orders once in August and twice in September.