PHARR, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The city of Pharr announced its police department’s Mental Health Unit was awarded “Organization of the Year” by the Texas Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Association.

“The goal of the unit is to provide resources for people in crisis and provide them the help they really need first,” stated Police Chief Andy Harvey.

According to the city, the Mental Health Unit was created in December 2020 to help educate officers about how to respond to cases in which a person is experiencing a mental health crisis.

The goal of the unit was to improve policing and train officers to respond appropriately to such scenarios without having to resort to excessive use of force or jail time. The unit has partnered with the local mental health authority, Tropical Texas Behavioral Health, and was recently awarded a $550,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Justice to continue its efforts. 

“We are seeing the positive impact that the Mental Health Unit is directly having in our community, and to be recognized by a statewide association that focuses specifically on the relationship between law enforcement and behavioral health is a great honor,” said Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D.