How It Started

In May of 2021, the City of DeSoto was awarded the Dallas County New Directions Public Safety Grant. This grant was created to address the crisis of criminalization, mental health, poverty, and homelessness by utilizing alternatives to police response and incarceration to more appropriately address the needs of Dallas County residents. DeSoto proposed the pilot of a Regional CARE Team composed of Police Officers from each identified city, Care Coordinators provided through the Local Mental Health Authority, Licensed Social Service Providers, and Victim’s Assistance Coordinators all under one roof.

What We Do

As a multi-disciplinary group, the Regional CARE Team provides community behavioral health support to individuals and their families. We are a free resource provided by the participating cities (Cedar Hill, DeSoto, and Duncanville) for our residents. Our purpose is to assist individuals experiencing behavioral health needs and their families/support systems to access, navigate, understand, and utilize appropriate community referral sources. We do not respond to 9-1-1, but instead we are here to provide prevention services before a crisis begins and follow up after a crisis to help in preventing another.

Our Mission & Approach

To seize opportunities to engage with individuals and their families experiencing behavioral health needs by providing prevention and follow-up support, education, self-advocacy, diversion opportunities, and warm hand-offs to appropriate community referral partners.

Our Core Values

1- Human Dignity

We value the dignity of human lives by honoring confidentiality, building and maintaining trust, and treating others with respect and professionalism.

2- Patience

We recognize that movement toward recovery is different for everyone and commit to supporting and walking alongside individuals in whatever stage they are in.

3- Adaptability

We maintain flexibility by pivoting and tailoring our services, according to what each individual or their support system needs.

4- Team Work

We recognize that, as a carefully crafted multidisciplinary team, we bring the best of ourselves together in order to enhance our abilities to serve the community and honor the overall mission of the team. We demonstrate teamwork by effectively communicating with team mates and sharing information, ideas and feedback. We respect the expertise of each team member and utilize the synergy created to provide the most appropriate and thorough service to individuals in need.

5- Perseverance

We understand that, for some individuals, “no” simply means, “not right now”, and promote a no-wrong-door policy for individuals when they are ready to engage.

6- Enthusiasm

We are passionate about aiding individuals in moving from behavioral health needs to recovery and community integration.

7- Empathy

We take into account the individual’s unique and personal perspective, and regard them with compassion and kindness.

LEADERSHIP

Dr. Raven Thousand, Ed.D., LPC

Dr. Raven Thousand, Ed.D., LPC

Regional Program Manager

Raven Thousand is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) who earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX and a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health and Counseling from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX. She recently graduated from Nebraska Methodist College with an EdD in Public Health Policy. Raven is proud and excited to lead the Regional CARE team. Before joining the team, Raven gained valuable experience working within the inpatient psychiatric hospital system, for the State of Texas in crisis services, and as a Director of Crisis Services for a Local Mental Health Authority.

In addition to higher education and on the job experience, Raven brings lived experience to the team as she is the parent of children living with mental illness. Raven has extensive experience working with crisis intervention, acute psychiatric care, and quality management. In her spare time, Raven loves to snuggle with her three sphynx cats and watch supernatural thrillers.

Lt. Melissa Franks, M.A.D.R.

Lt. Melissa Franks, M.A.D.R.

Regional Team Coordinator

Lieutenant Melissa Franks is a 19-year veteran of the DeSoto Police Department. In 2022, she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelors degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Texas A&M Commerce. In 2024, she graduated with a masters degree in Dispute Resolution from Southern Methodist University. She is a mental health peace officer (MHPO), holds a Master’s Peace Officer license and is a police instructor specializing in Crisis Intervention Training and De-escalation. She served as a crisis/hostage negotiator for over 16 years for the area’s SWAT group. She is also the first woman of color to promote to supervisor and the first woman to achieve the rank of Lieutenant in the history of the DeSoto Police Department.

As the founder of the Regional CARE Team, she wants to help stop the revolving door of over-utilization of 9-1-1 and emergency hospitalization associated with mental health. She loves bringing her skills of negotiation, mediation, and crisis intervention and her knowledge of the criminal justice system to the team effort to engage people with behavioral health needs and their families. In her free time, Lt. Franks enjoys crafting, crocheting, and watching movies with her family.

TEAM MEMBERS

Officer Jacob Rawlins

Officer Jacob Rawlins

Cedar Hill Police

Officer Jacob Rawlins is an 10-year veteran of the Cedar Hill Police Department. He is a mental health peace officer (MHPO), holds an Advanced Peace Officer Certification, is Field Training Officer and a member of the Cedar Hill Honor Guard.

Officer Rawlins joined the Regional CARE Team believing there was more that can be done for families and individuals who experience mental illness. During his eight years of experience, he has noticed a lack of information for these individuals and their families. He is excited to bring his knowledge, training, and experience to the CARE Team and the citizens. In his free time, Officer Rawlins enjoys landscaping, wood working, and the outdoors with his family.

Officer Carolyn Williams

Officer Carolyn Williams

DeSoto Police

Officer Carolyn Williams is a police officer with the DeSoto Police Department. A veteran officer of 22 years, Officer Williams worked as a patrol officer for 18 years before volunteering to come to the Regional CARE Team. Additionally, she held the position of FTO (Field Training Officer) for 9 years where she assisted the DeSoto PD by training and mentoring new police recruits. She holds a Master Peace Officer license and is certified as a Mental Health Peace Officer.

Officer Williams earned her Bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and traveling.

Yulanda King

Yulanda King

DeSoto Victims Assistance Coordinator

Yulanda King is the Victims Assistance Coordinator on the Regional CARE Team, serving victims of the City of DeSoto. Her career started in east Texas working within the court system. From there, she went to work for Harris County in the Justice of Peace office and later in the Public Defender’s Office as a case manager and mental health coordinator. After acquiring extensive experience in working with offenders within the criminal justice system, she sought to expand her expertise by working with the other side – victims of violent crime.

She finds working with victims, and particularly, domestic violence victims to be challenging and worthwhile. While she knows that she cannot necessarily change the situations of individuals, she wants to help them understand that there can be a better way of thinking about and handling their circumstances. In doing so, she hopes to empower victims to become future advocates for others in similar situations.

Yulanda has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, a Master’s in Public Administration/Public Service, and a Master’s in Education/Counseling and Development. In her free time, she enjoys shopping and spending time with family and friends.

Officer Ambrosio Hernandez

Officer Ambrosio Hernandez

Duncanville Police

Officer Ambrosio Hernandez graduated from Duncanville High School in 2012, served four years in the United States Marine Corps, and completed approximately two years of college credits

He has been a Police Officer for approximately four years. After serving in the Marine Corps, he wanted to continue serving his community. He was raised in Duncanville and is glad he can provide such a helpful service to the community. Officer Hernandez grew a passion for mental health while on patrol and is honored to be a part of the Regional CARE Team.

He enjoys watching sports, football, basketball, and baseball as well as participating in them. In his free time, he enjoys running and weightlifting. Officer Hernandez’s greatest pleasure is spending time with his family and participating in community outreach programs with Duncanville Police Department.

Kimberly Bonner, LMSW

Kimberly Bonner, LMSW

Regional Social Service Provider

Kimberly Bonner is the Licensed Social Services Provider on the Regional CARE Team serving the cities of Desoto, Cedar Hill, and Duncanville. Kimberly holds a Master of Social Work (MSW) from Our Lady of the Lake University and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Texas Woman’s University. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker with a passion for advocating for vulnerable populations, implementing organizational improvements, spearheading community projects, and making a difference in the lives of others.

Kimberly’s leadership style is characterized by servant leadership, employing a holistic approach to human issues with empathy and understanding to enhance the community’s well-being. She has a deep connection to the Best Southwest area, having graduated from Duncanville High School.

Outside of her professional endeavors, Kimberly values spending quality time with her husband and four children, attending their various activities, and creating lasting family memories.

Gary McGough, QMHP

Gary McGough, QMHP

NTBHA Care Coordinator

Gary McGough works for the North Texas Behavioral Health Authority (NTBHA) and has spent the past six years working with inmates at Dallas County Jail, attempting to the quell the rampant recidivism among the unhoused population within the prison and assisting with competency restoration for defendants whose mental health requires additional support while navigating the courts. Gary also has a background in working on the Rapid Assessment and Prevention team (RAP) for Metrocare Services, where he was passionate about educating high utilizers of behavioral health services in how to access community-based resources for non-emergent needs.

Gary graduated from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.  He was formerly certified as a police officer, a parole officer, and a teacher. He participated in beta testing of the RIGHT Care Team with Dallas Police Department and Dallas Fire and Rescue.  He takes great pride in helping individuals whose behavioral health needs, whether due to diagnosis, social stigma, or inimical personalities, are chronically underserved.

Gary joined the Regional CARE Team because he understands the desperate need for follow up services and resources in that critical period after an incident or episode and wants to champion the diversion of behavioral health needs away from law enforcement.  Gary was quickly adopted by the Regional CARE family, who values his skills, rapport building, and resource knowledge.  He shares the stated goals of the Team and was happy to once again be “meeting people where they live.”  In his free time, Gary likes to write, and has completed three novels and countless short stories.