Houston Police Department Teams Up to Effectively Serve Individuals Suffering from Mental Illnesses

This blog post is part of a series highlighting best practices in community policing by police departments throughout the U.S. as part of IACP’s Community Policing: The Next Generation and Task Force on 21st Century Policing projects. The projects showcase innovative and effective solutions to building trust and creating opportunities to collaborate with community stakeholders to increase public safety. These projects are funded through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Houston, Texas, Police Department was a finalist of the 2015 IACP/Cisco Community Policing Award.


Over the past decade, the Houston, Texas, Police Department (HPD) experienced a dramatic increase in calls involving people in a mental health crisis. Unfortunately, along with the increase in calls-for-service there was also an increase in tragic encounters involving deadly force and persons with serious mental illness. During a six-month period in 2007, the Houston Police Department was involved in three deadly force incidents involving persons with serious mental illness.

As a result of these incidents, a Mental Health Task Force was formed in Houston in September 2007.  This task force was comprised of members of law enforcement, community leaders, and mental health advocates. The task force determined that the deadly force incidents had two things in common:

  1. Each of the individuals fatally wounded by officers had a lengthy history of severe and persistent mental illness;
  2. Each of the individuals fatally wounded by officers had a prior history of mental health crises and contact with police during these crises.

Due to these findings, the task force formed a plan of action to identify the 30 people with most chronic mental illnesses in the City of Houston who had the most frequent contact with law enforcement. The HPD Mental Health Division used offense reports involving persons with mental illness to identify the candidates for this program.


As a result of the task force’s action plan, the Chronic Consumer Stabilization Initiative(CCSI), an innovative, collaborative, and proactive partnership of the HPD, Houston Health Department, and the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County, was developed. The strategy of this partnership was to evaluate and research the root causes for these individuals having frequent encounters with law enforcement.

CCSI officially began as a six-month pilot program on February 15, 2009.  Two licensed case managers, with professional backgrounds in mental health services, were hired by the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County (MHMRA) and funded by Houston City Mayor Bill White, with approval of the Houston City Council. Both case managers were responsible for engaging and interacting with the 30 individuals selected for the program.

The three main goals of the Chronic Consumer Stabilization Initiative are:

  1. To reduce the number of interactions between individuals diagnosed with serious and persistent mental illness and the HPD;
  2. Identify unmet needs and barriers in the community that contribute to an individual’s inability to engage and remain in mental health treatment;
  3. Link and coordinate individuals with mental health treatment and other social services.

The Initiative has been very successful since the 2009 pilot. Of the 2014 year participants, approximately 70 percent reduced both their police contacts (law enforcement calls-for-service) and emergency detentions by 50 percent (Mental Health Division, 2017).

Would you like to know more about Houston’s Mental Health Division?


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