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

Raven Thousand, Ed.D., LPC

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, MHPO

Lt. Melissa Franks, MHPO

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 of Science in Criminal Justice Administration from TX A&M Commerce. She is a mental health peace officer (MHPO), holds a Master’s Peace Officer certification 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. She is currently seeking a Masters degree in Dispute Resolution from Southern Methodist University.

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

Sheila Johnson

Sheila Johnson

Regional Administrative Assistant

Sheila Johnson currently works as the Administrative Assistant for the Regional CARE Team and as the Alarm Administrator for the DeSoto Police Department. A long-time employee of the City of DeSoto, she previously worked in the Finance department as an Accounting Technician. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Dallas Baptist University.

Sheila loves helping people and volunteers regularly at the Stewpot in downtown Dallas, an organization serving people experiencing homelessness. She also loves spending time with her family.

Officer Jacob Rawlins

Officer Jacob Rawlins

Cedar Hill Police

Officer Jacob Rawlins is an 8-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 20 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 family volleyball, soccer and hiking.

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.

Deidra Phillips

Deidra Phillips

Regional Social Service Provider

Deidra Phillips is a Social Service Provider on the Regional CARE Team. Her career started with Dallas County as a caseworker for the Department of Family and Protective Services. She remained in that position for approximately 2.5 years before accepting a new position as a Kinship Development Worker. She maintained that position for 3 years before joining the Regional CARE Team.

Deidra has earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, as well as her license, in Social Work. In her free time, she enjoys shopping, binge watching different television shows, cooking, and playing volleyball.

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.