TX fund cuts force police to care for mentally ill

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Law enforcement officers are becoming frontline social workers in a state where mental health funding has always been inadequate.

Mental health services are suffering under the strain of a strapped Texas budget, leaving law enforcement to pick up the slack of a load they have neither the training nor the manpower to bear.

Police and sheriff's departments say the number of mental health calls they respond to is snowballing. And thanks to a budget shortfall that could reach $27 billion, it may get worse.

Lawmakers are contemplating slashing mental health services by 20%, making it more likely for the mentally ill to end up behind bars.

Law enforcement departments are making mental health training a greater part of their curriculum to deal with the load.