Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $549,254)
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office serves approximately 324,000 residents residing in Northwest Florida. The county is comprised of approximately 68.9 % Caucasian, 23.3 % African American, and 7.8 % mixed or another race. The median age is 37.2 with 50.9 % of the population between 25-64 years of age. Median Household Income is $50,915.00 with property value averages at $173,100.00. Approximately 24% of African Americans live in poverty compared to 12% Caucasians.
The Escambia Sheriff’s Office is seeking qualification for “Connect and Protect Priorities” by creating a program that promotes effective strategies by law enforcement to identify and reduce the risk of harm to individuals with mental health disorders or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders who encounter law enforcement and improve public safety. The Co-Responder team will provide services to minority and marginalized individuals in the county’s most underserved communities. Details can be located in the proposed narrative on pages 5, 6, 8, 10, & 11.
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is the lead applicant and will establish a contract with Lakeview Center, Inc. The ECSO is seeking $550,000.00 in federal funding to cover the salary, benefits, training and associated costs with the proposed specialty trained deputy positions. The ECSO will acquire 3 deputies to partner with Lakeview Center. The unit will consist of 3 specialty trained Deputy Sheriff’s paired with 2 mental health clinicians to establish 3 Co-Responder Teams that ride in the same vehicle. This will create a unique circumstance in which a dispatcher identifying a caller in mental crisis, suffering from a mental disorder or co-occurring substance abuse disorder, will dispatch a specially trained Deputy Sheriff and mental health clinician to the individual in need. The Co-Responder Unit will be able to reduce response times and place mental health clinicians and law enforcement officers on scene at the same time. This simultaneous arrival will provide the individual in crisis with immediate expert care in safety, behavioral health screening and assessment. The Co-Responder Team will go into the situation utilizing the combined expertise of the deputy and mental health clinician ideally establishing a scenario in which use of force is less likely.
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office has never been the recipient of Connect and Protect: Law Enforcement Behavioral Health Response grant funds.