Getting to Know Some of Abilene’s Public Servants By: Emily Williamson

Last week, public servants from two different Abilene organizations came to speak to Hardin-Simmons University students, the Abilene Police Department and the Betty Hardwick Center.


The Abilene Police Department brought out their K-9 units, S.W.A.T. unit and bomb squad for the Fall 2021 APD College Tour. Officers shared their expertise about the work that they do on a daily basis and allowed students to see the K-9 units hard at work. This event was coordinated by the HSU Criminal Justice Association.


The second event featured representatives from both APD and the Betty Hardwick Center. Lt. Gerald Moran from the APD, Nancy Elliot from Betty Hardwick Center and Heather Storey from Betty Hardwick Center represented their various organizations.. Elliot serves as a Mental Health Program Administrator and Storey is a crisis outreach specialist. Together, APD, Abilene Fire Department and Betty Hardwick Center participate in community response and crisis intervention teams.


These existing teams have been specifically designed to keep the mentally challenged out of jail by creating plans for individuals with strong consideration and awareness of their mental health status. A new Rural Behavioral Response Team is set to start later this month.


The work that the community crisis response teams do is a true collaborative effort designed to promote holistic approaches to policing and community care as well as general intentionality with Abilene’s relevant population.


The Betty Hardwick Center representatives were invited to speak at HSU by the Social Work Club. Christopher Beavers, a senior social work major from Lorena, is the vice president of the club. Beavers believes that this event provided an incredible opportunity for students to see the local steps being taken to better serve those who need mental health services in the Abilene community through the community crisis response team.


“This topic matters for Abilene since mental health is such an important reality, and many individuals do not understand how big of an issue it truly is,” Beavers said. “Having Betty Hardwick and APD is so important to Abilene, and they care about mental health.”


While this event might have had added significance for social work and criminal justice majors who attended, the topics discussed are relevant to all. This community response program is one of only a couple in existence in the State of Texas, and other counties, cities and regions are beginning to notice the significant impact the program is having.


“One thing I got out of the event that I hope others did too is how important this program is and how it is going to continue to grow,” Beavers said. “Hearing about how many individuals the CRT (crisis response team) has already helped was fascinating. It was easy to see how much of an impact they have had.”


If you missed out on these two events, keep an eye out for future opportunities provided by the Social Work Club and Criminal Justice Association throughout the year. Both organizations and all students who attended expressed gratitude for such learning opportunities.


“I just want to thank Lt. Moran, Nancy Elliot and Heather Storey for coming out and speaking on this important topic. They do not go unnoticed in what they do for our community,” Beavers said. “I also would like to thank everybody who came out for the event. I love having a University who cares about our program and provides us the resources to be able to promote important topics like this.”


Follow the HSU Social Work Club and Criminal Justice Association on Instagram for more updates about upcoming events:


@hsusocialwork1981

@hsu_cja