How Police Officers Provide Mental Health Support in the Community

City of Austin Police Department

African American Mental Health and Wellness (AMEN) team is collaborating with KAZI FM 88.7 in producing a radio series to highlight the importance of addressing mental health and physical wellness in the African American community. The monthly series will feature AMEN team members from the School of Nursing, leaders from Mt. Zion Baptist and Rehoboth Baptist churches, and community organizations who provide mental health resources and support in Travis county.


Episode 19: How Police Officers Provide Mental Health Support in the Community

Moderator, Jacki Hecht, interviewed Corporal Michael Rhone, who has been with the Austin Police Department for 18.5 years and is the President of the Texas Peace Officers Association Austin along with Officer Alexandria Parker who has been with the Austin Police Department for 2 years and is the secretary of the Texas Peace Officers Association Austin.

Corporal Michael Rhone addresses that the pandemic has taken a toll on many individuals and with that, many communities have been left at risk. Officer Parker adds that as time progresses, there has been an increase in mental health issues such as situational depression, or stress may be serving as a trigger and has been causing people to have a decline in mental health. These difficult situations often cause people to turn to the police force to de-escalate the situation.

The police involvement in addressing mental health plays a significant role in serving and protecting the community. Rhone and Parker both note that much of this assistance is done on a first-hand basis and the determination to better the community is a driving force and it is what gets them through the tough times. Furthermore, the Mobile Crisis Outreach Team was designed to address mental health concerns within the community by allowing civilians to access the scene of crisis once it is safe and help with persons dealing with individuals beyond the emergency situation. 

Officer Parker discusses that her job is simply more than just putting on a uniform and showing up to work every day. She realized that a big part of her job, along with everyone in the police force, is seeing other individuals at their worst. Parker acknowledges that their goal when encountering these difficult situations is to end these interactions without using any kind of force and maintain the safety of the community. Michael Rhone stresses the importance of resources and to steer away from being quiet on situations that require extra attention. Additionally, when you or someone is in crisis, it is important to identify any known triggers and provide as much information as possible to first responders so that they can tailor their emergency response to the situation.

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