Kinney serves as mental health community liaison for UPD
The Texas State University Police Department (UPD) began a new mental health community liaison program with the recent naming of Officer Jessica Kinney as UPD Mental Health Officer.
Kinney, 36, previously worked for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department where she earned the mental health peace officer certification.
“I love working with kids — young people — and helping to educate people about law enforcement,” Kinney said. A graduate of Judson High School in Converse, Kinney attended Angelo State University on an athletic scholarship and earned a degree in kinesiology, with a minor in psychology.
Kinney joined UPD three years ago as a patrol officer. In November, she shadowed mental health officers with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office and San Marcos Police Department. She explained that one responsibility of her job includes responding to welfare concerns. While shadowing Hays County officers, the team was required to take a minor to the Laurel Ridge Treatment Center.
At Texas State Kinney will be working closely with the Counseling Center and local agencies. Last year was a rough one for many people, Kinney said, citing such things as the pandemic, the election, and the nationwide protests that resulted in violence as events that can impact mental health.
UPD Chief Laurie Espinoza Clouse said the plan to have a mental health community liaison was first discussed in the fall. “We knew that it was important to provide a response to our students in crisis that was focused on positive outcomes,” she said. “If the liaison is on duty, she will respond jointly with patrol but more importantly, after the initial call is completed, our liaison provides follow-up to the call to ensure our students are connected to appropriate resources and helps facilitate that connection when needed.”
The program is designed to enhance the response to students in crisis. “We are all committed to creating positive outcomes for our students if they experience a mental health crisis,” Clouse said. She added that officers who respond can request Officer Kinney in a call and the dispatchers have been advised to include Kinney when she’s available and the call is deemed to be a mental health call.