The City of Boerne is a 2023 recipient of the ICMA Local Government Excellence Award in Community Partnerships for the reimaging of the Police Department’s mental health officer (MHO) position and the City’s efforts to collaborate with area partners on mental health response.
ICMA’s Community Partnership Award recognizes the programs or processes that demonstrate innovation, excellence, and success in multi-participant involvement between or among a local government and other governmental entities, private sector businesses, individuals, or nonprofit agencies to improve the quality of life for residents or provide more efficient and effective services.
“We are immensely proud and deeply grateful for the efforts of our Police Department to forge strong collaborative partnerships with Kendall County and local nonprofits to bolster our mental health response,” City Manage Ben Thatcher said. “Together, we are building a more compassionate and resilient community that prioritizes the wellbeing of our citizens."
The Boerne Police Department created its first-ever mental health officer position in January 2022, filled by Officer Rebecca Foley, to address increasing calls for mental health response. Officer Foley responds to mental health calls, accompanies patients to hospitals on emergencies, and connects them to mental health resources in the days and weeks that follow.
Officer Foley also works closely with school resource officers, school counselors, and administrators to address at-risk youth with mental health needs within the district. Having a dedicated MHO ensures patients receive dedicated care and allows patrol officers to return to other duties more quickly.
“This can be replicated by any city of our capacity,” Foley said. “At first, everyone was hesitant to talk about this, but now I have mothers we are helping who say, ‘Thank you, I appreciate this.’”
The award also recognizes the partnerships made outside the City of Boerne organization to address the mental health needs of the community more effectively.
In true collaborative effort, the City of Boerne, Hill Country Family Services, KCEMS, and Kendall County have come together to address service gaps for mental and behavioral health issues with an upstream focus on preventing mental health crises, emergency detentions, incarceration, and suicides.
The ICMA Local Government Excellence Awards Program highlights creative contributions to professional local government management while demonstrating the difference that effective and committed management makes to the quality of life in our communities. ICMA’s program awards are presented to local governments and their chief administrators in recognition of their innovative and successful programs. Nominations are evaluated by an independent, 13-person panel of ICMA members.