UTSA Police Department to receive new training on mental health calls

New police training could help improve lives of UTSA students

SAN ANOTNIO – For some, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought stress, fear and isolation.

As college students return to campus, a local police department wants to be prepared to handle mental health calls.

“We recognize that with students returning to campus and things that we’ve seen during the pandemic, we recognize that our mental health calls, we’re going to probably exceed what we had the last couple of years,” said Capt. Thomas Calucci of the UTSA Police Department.

Calucci said a group of officers will be getting trained by professors from the Department of Counseling on various aspects of mental health.

“We’ll be talking about crisis intervention, we’ll be talking about psychotic disorders, we’ll be talking about de-escalation techniques,” Calucci said.

Calucci said he wants officers to be prepared to respond to any calls and ready to switch gears at any moment.

“If the person there is needing mental health support to be able to again, mitigate that situation right there, but then funnel them toward long term resources,” Calucci said.

Heather Trepal , a UTSA professor of Counseling, will be working with police officers on this training.

“They’re that first line of mental health intervention or response, we want them to be equipped with the tools that they need to help our community,” Trepal said.

Trepal said there could be negative consequences without proper training.

“We could have some mental health issues escalate or some other ones, on the other hand, fall through the cracks and not receive maybe the direct coordination of mental health services that the person needs,” Trepal said.

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Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.