Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $516,597)
The Sumter County Sheriff's Office respectfully requests funding to implement a co-responder model to help individuals in the community with mental illness and co-occurring substance use. The funding would allow the creation of three new crisis intervention specialists to respond to mental health calls to support deputies, assist with de-escalation, and provide immediate mental health referrals. The goals of this program include increasing access to community based treatment for people with mental illness, decreasing arrest, and decreasing hospitalization. The most important goal of this program is to enhance trust between the community and law enforcement through the ability to respond effectively and safely to people with mental illness. Crisis intervention specialists will also be available to respond and offer services to victims of crime.
Successful implementation of this program will lead to reduced risk of harm to people with mental illness and reduced risk of harm to law enforcement responding to these calls for service. In addition to the co-responder model, the Sheriff’s Office will implement assessment tools to identify offenders with mental illness who are at moderate and high risk of recidivism and take a proactive response to these individuals to link them to community based treatment.
The positions will have alternating shift schedules, allowing one trained crisis intervention specialist to be on duty during peak hours for calls for service. The Sheriff’s Office is partnering with LifeStream Behavioral Center in the development of this program and training of personnel involved. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office will collaborate with LifeStream upon a person’s discharge from an involuntary hospitalization in order to assist with linking them to services. This program will involve collaborating with LifeStream to train deputies and 911 operators on responding to people with mental illness and the development of a Mental Health Coordinated Response Team, comprised of a variety of community providers.
This proposed program would have crisis intervention specialists arrive on-scene in their own vehicles, allowing the deputy to leave once safety has been established and the crisis intervention specialist can take the necessary time to link the individual to community services. The crisis intervention specialist offers support to the deputy and assistance with de-escalation to prevent a dangerous situation or unnecessary arrest. In addition, these employees will be able to proactively respond to individuals with mental illness identified as high risk and help link them to community based treatment, providing solutions to any barriers to treatment.