Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
A: Anyone can email the MHU at any time at [email protected]. A person can also call the MHU at: 512-260-4600.
IF THIS IS AN EMERGENCY OR ACTIVE CRISIS, PLEASE CALL 9-1-1. The non-emergency number for the Cedar Park Police Department Dispatch is: 512-260-4611.
Police Officer Emergency Detention = POED; Police Officer Emergency Committal = POEC; Emergency Detention = ED; Notice of Emergency Detention = NED.
An emergency detention is not an arrest. Emergency detention is the legal procedure by which a person experiencing a severe mental health crisis may be detained by a law enforcement officer for a preliminary examination and crisis stabilization, if appropriate. Law enforcement officers have significant discretion to make a warrantless apprehension for an emergency detention if the statutory criteria are met (See Tex. Health & Safety Code § 573.001(a)) rather than choosing to make an arrest. This is frequently referred to as an “APOWW” (Apprehension by Police Officer Without a Warrant).
Emergency detention may be necessary and appropriate when a person will not submit to voluntary services. The person must be placed in the least restrictive, most appropriate setting, while safeguarding the person’s legal rights to a subsequent judicial determination of their need for involuntary mental health services. See Tex. Health & Safety Code §§ 571.004, 576.021(a)(1).
If the proposed detainee has evidenced mental illness and a substantial risk exists for serious harm to the person and/or others, and/or the person has displayed evidence of severe emotional distress and deterioration in the person's mental condition to the extent that the person cannot remain at liberty, the person is transported to a mental health facility for a custody period of 48 hours. The preliminary examination by a physician generally must take place within 12 hours of admission.
Within 12 hours of apprehension, whether a person was transported to a facility with or without a warrant, at least one physician must evaluate the person (See Tex. Health & Safety Code §§ 573.021(c)).
A Physician need not be a psychiatrist, but must be: A person licensed to practice medicine in this state; A person employed by a federal agency who has a license to practice medicine in any state; or A person authorized to perform medical acts under a physician-in-training permit at a Texas postgraduate training program (See Tex. Health & Safety Code §§ 571.003(18)).
After the examination, the patient must be released unless the physician makes a written determination that the patient has mental illness and should be detained at a mental health facility. The physician may also file for an Order for Protective Custody (OPC), extending the period of detention.
An OPC may only be issued by a court in which an application for court ordered mental health services is pending. The OPC directs a person authorized by law to transport patients to take the proposed patient into protective custody and transport the person immediately to a mental health facility deemed suitable by the local mental health authority for the area. On request of the local mental health authority, the judge may order that the proposed patient be detained in an inpatient mental health facility operated by the department. Tex. Health & Safety Code §574.021 and §574.023. An OPC may also be filed for by a physician while a person is already in mental health facility, which will extend the time of stay in said facility.
The motion may be filed by a physician, or by the county or district attorney or on the court's own motion. Tex. Health & Safety Code §574.021(a). The motion must be accompanied by a certificate of medical examination for mental illness prepared by a physician who has examined the proposed patient not earlier than the third day before the day the motion is filed. Tex. Health & Safety Code §574.021(d).
The judge or designated magistrate may issue an OPC if the judge or magistrate determines:
(1) that a physician has stated the physician's opinion and the detailed reasons for the physician's opinion that the proposed patient is a person with mental illness; and
(2) the proposed patient presents a substantial risk of serious harm to the proposed patient or others if not immediately restrained pending the hearing. Tex. Health & Safety Code §574.022(a).
The judge or magistrate may make a determination that the proposed patient meets the criteria for an OPC from the application and certificate alone if the judge or magistrate determines that the conclusions of the applicant and certifying physician are adequately supported by the information provided. However, the judge or magistrate may take additional evidence if a fair determination of the matter cannot be made from consideration of the application and certificate only. Tex. Health & Safety Code §574.022(c), (d).
The judge or magistrate may issue an OPC for a proposed patient who is charged with a criminal offense if the proposed patient meets the requirements for an OPC and the facility administrator designated to detain the proposed patient agrees to the detention. Tex. Health & Safety Code §574.022(e).
When an OPC is signed, the judge or designated magistrate shall appoint an attorney to represent a proposed patient who does not have an attorney. Tex. Health & Safety Code §574.024(a).
Within 72 hours after the time that the proposed patient was detained under an OPC, a hearing must be held to determine if:
(1) there is probable cause to believe that a proposed patient under a protective custody order presents a substantial risk of serious harm to the proposed patient or others to the extent that the proposed patient cannot be at liberty pending the hearing on court ordered mental health services; and
(2) a physician has stated the physician's opinion and the detailed reasons for the physician's opinion that the proposed patient is a person with mental illness. Tex. Health & Safety Code §574.025(a), (b).
If the 72 hour period ends on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the hearing must be held on the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. The judge or magistrate may postpone the hearing each day for an additional 24 hours if the judge or magistrate declares that an extreme emergency exists because of extremely hazardous weather conditions or the occurrence of a disaster that threatens the safety of the proposed patient or another essential party to the hearing. Tex. Health & Safety Code §574.025(b).
If the judge or magistrate determines after the hearing that an adequate factual basis exists for probable cause to believe that the proposed patient presents a substantial risk of serious harm to himself or others to the extent that he cannot remain at liberty pending the hearing on court ordered mental health services, then the judge or magistrate shall order that a proposed patient remain in protective custody until a final order for court ordered mental health services is entered or the person is released or discharged after a finding that such services are not necessary. Tex. Health & Safety Code §574.026 and §574.027.
If the judge or magistrate determines after the hearing that no probable cause exists to believe that the proposed patient presents a substantial risk of serious harm to himself or others, then the judge or magistrate shall order the release of the person under the OPC. Tex. Health & Safety Code §574.028.
- What happens if person does not meet criteria for emergency detention after being transported to a mental health facility and completing a preliminary examination?
The person must be released.
The person must be returned to the location of apprehension, residence in TX, or another suitable location. If the person was apprehended by a peace officer, immediate transport is required by that agency; otherwise it must be reasonably prompt. Tex. Health & Safety Code § 573.024
- What happens if person does not meet criteria for emergency detention by a law enforcement officer in the field?
Even if a person does not meet criteria for a POED, there is nothing that prohibits anyone from seeking care through a mental health facility voluntarily. Most health insurance companies, including Medicaid and Medicare, cover mental health support.
The Mental Health Unit is a collaboration between the Cedar Park Police Department (CPPD) and Bluebonnet Trails Community Services (BTCS). BTCS is the Local Mental Health Authority (LMHA) of our area, specifically Williamson County. BTCS is State funded, and in many cases can help facilitate funding for persons in mental health crisis following an evaluation.
If you reside in Travis County, or if an incident occurred in Travis County, the LMHA is Integral Care.
Community mental health services are provided through Local Mental Health Authorities (LMHAs)/Local Behavioral Health Authorities (LBHAs), also referred to as community mental health centers. The LMHAs/LBHAs provide services to a specific geographic area of the state, called the local service area. LMHAs are required to: plan, develop policy, coordinate, allocate, and develop resources for mental health services in the local service area. Bluebonnet Trails Community Services (BTCS) is Williamson County’s LMHA, and Integral Care is Travis County’s.
Law enforcement officers have significant discretion to make a warrantless apprehension for an emergency detention if the statutory criteria are met (See Tex. Health & Safety Code § 573.001(a)) rather than choosing to make an arrest; however, if a person has committed a “violent offense”, an arrest will likely supersede an emergency detention. If a person is arrested, and does have a mental illness, a CPPD MHU officer will notify BTCS on a referral basis, so that BTCS can follow up with the person while still in jail. This will offer in-jail mental health support, court notification of the mental health aspect, and follow-up contact and support by BTCS after release from jail to ensure continued care.
The difference between an inpatient and outpatient facility is that you stay overnight at inpatient facilities.
An outpatient program allows for more freedom. Inpatient stays are typically short, usually less than one week. Inpatient programs keep you safe in the short term to stabilize clients for future therapy solutions.
Inpatient and outpatient facilities also differ by the types of treatments and the level of support. Inpatient facilities can offer more hands-on support as you live at the treatment center for a brief time.
Inpatient care facilities are best if you need lots of support due to:
- Detox and withdrawal
- Severe mental health concerns, like suicidal behaviors and self-harm
- Medical concerns
- Lack of a supportive home environment
An inpatient treatment facility also offers:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Clinicians on staff
- Medication management
- Detoxification services
Following an inpatient stay, outpatient services help you build a support system, and begin long-term recovery.
We strive to engage our mental health consumers, and the general public, with dignity and respect. All interactions with our MHU are confidential, and we adhere to state and federal guidelines regarding the restricted release of records and reports.