Bexar County commissioners approve new program to better respond to mental health calls

Deputies may still answer some mental health calls

BEXAR COUNTY, Texas – Bexar County commissioners approved a new program on Thursday to help respond better to mental health calls.

The program’s announcement follows the killing of Damian Lamar Daniels last month, which Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff has said should have never happened.

Daniels, a combat veteran, was reportedly dealing with a family member’s death and was shot in a struggle with deputies who had responded to his home.

Under the plan commissioners passed Thursday morning, mental health calls could be routed to a new, still unnamed mental health unit.

The unit would generally respond with paramedics and mental health professionals or perhaps even handle the issue over the phone.

Though mental health deputies would still go out to some of those calls, they are meant to have less of a role in the de-escalation.

“This program, I think, that has been developed is good because it’s looking at response, and response is really important, whether that decreases law enforcement utilization,” said Eric Epley, executive director of the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council.

Commissioners approved the $1.5 million program for the next budget year, which starts Oct. 1.

The new unit would respond to calls in unincorporated Bexar County.