Cedar Park entered an interlocal agreement with Bluebonnet Trails Community Services that permits qualified mental health professionals to work closely with mental health police officers in an integrated mental health unit March 23.

“I’m very, very excited about this,” Mayor Jim Penniman-Morin said at the March 23 City Council meeting.

The agreement allows more comprehensive and efficient responses to severe mental health calls and follow up mental health services, according to meeting documents. It will also increase communication between Cedar Park Police Department, mental health care providers, hospitals, courts of jurisdiction and other service providers.

While a cost for the interlocal agreement between Cedar Park and Bluebonnet Trails was not specified, each entity will be responsible for its own costs associated with the mental health unit, according to the city.

Bluebonnet Trails Community Services provides services for mental health, crisis, supportive housing, substance use and other needs for multiple cities, counties and school districts throughout Central Texas, including Cedar Park.

In November 2021, Bluebonnet Trails partnered with Williamson County to embed mental health professionals in the 911 dispatch center in an effort to address the growing demand for mental health care. Under the agreement, mental health care is one of the emergency services options available when a person calls 911 in addition to fire, EMS and police.

“This is not just about Cedar Park; you guys are setting the tone, the example for the nation, frankly,” Council Member Kevin Harris said at the meeting. “It’s a special thing.”