HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – Sheriff Chad Chronister announced the creation of HCSO’s Behavioral Resources Unit during a press conference on Monday.
The newly formed unit will focus on identifying individuals who have come into contact with law enforcement numerous times due to mental health issues or homelessness. It is comprised of deputies and newly hired licensed mental health counselors and licensed clinical social workers.
The Behavioral Resources Unit will connect individuals with the services they need before they are in a crisis situation, with the hope of keeping them out of the criminal justice system.
From January 1, 2018, through October 19, 2020, there were more than 10,000 Baker Acts in Hillsborough County. Of those, 1,204 people were placed under a Baker Act more than once.
“Mental health issues don’t discriminate,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. “They affect people in all walks of life, and it’s one of law enforcement’s biggest challenges.”
The Behavioral Resources Unit has been officially working since July and has already made a difference.
One positive impact example is the relationship the unit has developed with a 50-year-old gentleman. Over the past 15-years, deputies have had contact with this individual more than 100 times due to his mental health condition. Now, with the new Behavioral Resources Unit, the team meets with him on a regular basis and has connected him with resources to help him stay healthy and stay out of the criminal justice system.