Spindletop program extends to Hardin

Published 8:32 pm Monday, March 18, 2019

Special to The News


Spindletop Center’s Assistance, Stabilization and Prevention Program

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has extended its partnership with local law enforcement to include the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office, effective Feb. 25.

Hardin County joins the Jefferson, Chambers and Orange County Sheriff’s Offices and

Beaumont Police Department in partnering with Spindletop Center, who have been on board since 2014, 2015 and 2018, respectively.

Spindletop Center’s ASAP program began in January 2014. The program was designed to be a collaborative effort between local law enforcement and mental health professionals to identify, engage and provide services to individuals who have been diagnosed with serious and persistent mental illnesses and who have had frequent encounters with local law enforcement.

Spindletop Center is a non-profit healthcare organization specializing in behavioral healthcare, intellectual and developmental disabilities and substance use disorders for each stage of life.

The goals of the program are to avert outcomes such as potentially avoidable inpatient admissions in settings including psychiatric hospitals and state behavioral health facilities; to avert disruptive and deleterious events such as criminal justice system involvement; to promote wellness and adherence to behavioral health treatments; and to promote recovery in the community.

Tommy Smith, mental health liaison and crisis prevention specialist at Spindletop Center, said the concept upon which they built the program was being proactive, instead of reactive.

“Our program teamed up mental health professionals and local law enforcement, but on a proactive approach where we took a police officer and a mental health professional and put them into a two-man unit,” Smith said. “We would receive referrals from law enforcement, hospitals, mental health professionals and the community for people who have had multiple contacts with either law enforcement, hospitals or who have had a history of noncompliance with mental health treatment and we would make contact with them. We’d engage them and try to get them back into treatment.”

Law enforcement officers ride with mental health professionals, working as a team. The pair gets to know the people in the community who have mental health issues and builds a rapport with them before they go into a crisis and help deescalate the situation. The officer is also present to provide security for the mental health professional, if needed.

Tom Lee is the new mental health liaison from the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office.

For more information about the ASAP Program, contact Smith at Thomas.Smith@stctr.org.