Press Release

Rep. Cuellar Secures $229K for Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program in Mission

Police Department will expand program that redirects individuals from arrests to treatment centers

Washington | Dana Youngentob, DC Press Secretary (202-340-9148), September 30, 2022

Mission, Texas—Today, U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) announced that the Mission Police Department has been awarded $229,963 from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) for the expansion of an arrest diversion program that redirects severely mentally ill individuals from jail to mental health and substance abuse treatment centers. The program ensures that officers are equipped to safely respond to these individuals and can direct them to the treatment they need.

The police department will enhance its current mental health unit by hiring two additional Mental Health Officers, bringing its unit up to a total of four Mental Health Officers.

“With this program, rural communities in South Texas like Mission can provide quality mental health and substance abuse treatment for community members. Even more importantly, their work saves lives,” said Congressman Cuellar, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. “These individuals will now be able to get the help they need to get their lives back on track, rather than sitting unproductively in an overcrowded jail facility. I will continue to support our local law enforcement with federal funding to ensure that our local communities have the proper resources to help people suffering from severe mental illness.”

“Law enforcement officers are typically first on the scene of a community emergency, and we want to make sure they have the training and the tools to respond effectively,” Mission Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza said. “We thank Congressman Cuellar for helping to secure these funds that will be used to improve access to mental health and wellness services for our Mission Police Department by enhancing its current mental health unit capacity.”

“We are grateful to the Congressman for these additional resources to successfully deal with the challenges presented by mental illness,” Mission Police Chief Cesar Torres said. “These funds will add additional manpower to our mental health unit and expand community partnerships so that citizens are connected to the help they need. This will help to divert individuals from the justice system and deliver the appropriate treatment to those in need.”

The Mental Health Unit will be further supported by the collaboration with Tropical Texas Behavioral Center's professional staff. As a border-town, the Mission Police Department's jurisdiction encompasses over 34 square miles and provides its services along the United States-Mexico border. The program’s accomplishments will include reducing jail overcrowding and recidivism amongst mentally ill offenders through coordination and partnership opportunities with a local behavioral center.