SAN ANTONIO — Police are often the first point of contact for mentally ill people in crisis, a reality that has led to the incarceration of many individuals who might be better served by proper mental health treatment.

  • Documentary Ernie and Joe premieres at SXSW
  • Focuses on two members of SAPD’s mental health unit
  • Program helps identify people in crisis

Ernie and Joe is a documentary about a pair of San Antonio police officers who focus on the compassionate, sensitive and effective treatment of people experiencing a mental health crisis. The program is designed to properly identify people in crisis in hopes of diverting them into treatment, before they end up in the criminal justice system.

“When I learned of the work of the mental health unit in San Antonio, I was very impressed because they are really working hard, they are striving hard, to divert people who shouldn't be arrested and get them into treatment,” Jenifer McShane, the director of the film said. “For the treatment they are collaborating with several different agencies and I think it's a great example for other communities of how we can do these things better.”   

Ernie and Joe will have its last screening at SXSW at the Satellite Venue: AFS Cinema, March 15, at 6 p.m. in Austin.