Killeen PD: Too soon to measure new mental health program | Local News

One month after the Killeen Police Department launched its inaugural mental health program dubbed “Killeen Cares,” police report five people are officially enrolled.

Kicking off the month of May, Mental Health Awareness month, Killeen leaders and residents gathered on May 2 to unveil the “Killeen Cares” program spearheaded by the Killeen Police Department.

As of Wednesday evening, KPD spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez said four adults and one juvenile are formally enrolled and the department is processing “a couple of more applicants.”

The voluntary program – first revealed during KPD Chief Charles Kimble’s April virtual job interviews for a position in Seattle, Washington – consists of a pair of ribbon decals. One decal is green, signifying mental health awareness, and the other is decorated with multi-colored puzzle pieces, indicating the participant is on the autism spectrum.

The decals, police say, will provide officers with additional information so they know how to appropriately respond to calls for service.

“We will hopefully be able to provide officers with that awareness to know that, ‘Okay, this person is not tripping out because they’re on any type of drugs, but it’s due to their mental health or mental illness,’” KPD Sgt . Angela Mathews said during the Killeen Cares kickoff event on May 2 at Texas A&M University-Central Texas.

Individuals seeking to enroll in KPD’s Killeen Cares program must visit their doctor to fill out a medical release and a Killeen Cares enrollment form. Once the doctor emails those two forms to KPD, a Community Engagement Unit police officer will contact the participant and provide them with the decals. Each Killeen Cares participant will receive two numbered decals, police said, to affix to either a car or their residence.

The Killeen Police Department’s “Killeen Cares” program mental health decal depicted on the City of Killeen’s website Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, Miramontez said dozens of people have turned in Killeen Cares applications.

“We have provided information and applications to approximately 50 individuals who have yet to complete the process, which includes a visit with their medical provider,” she said.

The spokeswoman said area community partners, including the Killeen Independent School District, are informing residents of the new initiative.

“With the efforts from our community partners, word about the program is getting out,” she said. “KISD was able to get the message out to parents before school ended and many providers have assisted as well. The program has been well-received by area providers and most of them now have applications in their offices.”

During the May launch, Kimble said he hoped to provide residents with an easy way to find a participating doctor in the Killeen Cares program.

“Hope is to eventually get a list of all the providers so they can go to the police department’s website, hit a link, and take them to all the providers in our city who are participating in the program,” Kimble said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, a list of participating medical providers was not available on the “Killeen Cares” portion of the Killeen Police Department’s website.

KPD’s spokeswoman did not say how many medical professionals are participating in the program as of Wednesday.

“It is too soon to measure the success of the program as it is still in its infancy,” Miramontez said. “We are encouraged by the interest in it and expect enrollments to accelerate as individuals are able to get in to see their providers.”

One in every five US adults experiences mental illness every year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

According to the nonprofit, in February 2021, 43.4% of adults in Texas reported symptoms of anxiety or depression and 26.4% were unable to get needed counseling or therapy.


Leave a Comment