Funding approved for Dallas County’s five New Directions for Public Safety & Positive Community Change Initiatives

Today, the Dallas County Commissioners Court unanimously approved of County Administrator Darryl Martin’s request for $5 million in funding to support Dallas County’s proposed New Directions for Public Safety & Positive Community Change Initiatives:

  1. 1. Complete the Deflection Center at Homeward Bound ($1 million). Modeled after the Ed Emmett Center in Harris County, this is a proposed partnership with the North Texas Behavioral Health Authority (NTBHA) and Parkland Hospital to provide an alternative to jail for individuals interacting with law enforcement who demonstrate signs of mental health and/or substance abuse disorders. 

2. Provide grants to cities to implement alternative-response models ($3 million). This initiative will provide seed grants to Dallas County cities and groups of cities to implement strategies to reduce police intervention in certain mental health, substance abuse and homeless calls. 

3. Support research and the evaluation of the effectiveness of initiatives underway ($500,000). Dallas County will engage The Institute for Urban Policy Research at The University of Texas at Dallas to design an evaluation tool to monitor the effectiveness of the Deflection Center at Homeward Bound and the programs implemented by participating cities. 

4. Establish an Eviction Prevention Program ($250,000). Dallas County will work with the legal community to provide legal assistance to indigent residents facing eviction at the Justice of the Peace Courts. 

5. Other ($250,000). Provide additional resources necessary to assist the Dallas County Commissioners Court’s implementation of the four initiatives listed above. 

These initiatives were proposed as part of Dallas County’s Working Group on New Directions for Public Safety & Positive Community Change, which was established at the request of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins in June. The working group is comprised of local community leaders and public officials dedicated to supporting public safety and driving positive community change by:

  • Expanding the range of first responders addressing public safety issues beyond law enforcement officials and recommending funding for these responses in the coming budget year;
  • Identifying and investing in basic human needs for housing, health care, increased household income, living-wage employment, recreation and arts in our communities and recommending initial investments in these efforts in the coming budget year. 

Dallas County Administrator Darryl Martin was selected by Judge Jenkins to moderate the working group and facilitated a series of meetings for six weeks between July 1 and Aug. 5. Meeting topics for discussion included subjects such as criminalization, alternatives to police response, alternatives to incarceration, mental health as a crisis point, homelessness and investments to address poverty. 

Following these meetings, Martin requested that the Dallas County Commissioners Court approve of the execution and funding of the five initiatives outlined above. City managers part of the working group proposed to their respective city councils that funding be approved to support related initiatives such as adding a clinician to the city’s mental-health-response team, identifying policies to support low-rent rates, hosting unconscious bias and de-escalation trainings for all members of the city’s staff and creating mental-health-response units similar to the City of Eugene, Oregon’s Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) program