Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $550,000)
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office(PBSO), in partnership with Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network (SEFBHN), our lead mental health and substance use treatment services Network partner, is requesting $550,000 over a thirty-six- month project period to create a comprehensive, trauma-informed Palm Beach County Co-Responder Community Resource Team Pilot Strategy (Strategy). The overarching Strategy goal is to improve public safety and enhance public health responses to and outcomes for preliminarily qualified individuals with mental health disorders (MHDs) and co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders (MHSUDs) who come in contact with law enforcement. This Strategy will address two (2) of the program specific priority areas; Advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities; and Promoting effective strategies by law enforcement to identify and reduce the risk of harm to individuals with MHDS or co-occurring MHSUDS who encounter law enforcement.
Palm Beach County is the second largest Florida County in landmass, spanning 1970 square miles and the third largest in populace with over 1.497 million full time residents and an estimated 7 million tourist visitors each year (Wikipedia, 2022). The full time, diverse resident population includes an estimated 74.2% Whites, 20.1 % Blacks, .6% American Indian/Alaska Native, 3.0% Asians, .1% Native Hawaiian, 1.9% reporting two or more races, 23.9%. Hispanic or Latinx origin, 26.3% are foreign-born, and approximately 33.1% speak a language other than English at home (census.gov/quickfacts/). PBC is also home to exceptionally diverse areas of unparalleled wealth and boundless opportunity juxtaposed by areas of abject poverty and disproportionate rates of crime, including communities historically marginalized.
PBSO, SEFBHN, and our partners propose to create a comprehensive, cross-sector Strategy through which enhanced law enforcement-behavioral health collaboration can be realized, a data-driven, evidence based, community informed Co-Responder Team can be created and implemented, increased access to mental health, substance use, and related ancillary services will be possible, a robust public awareness and outreach campaign tailored to communities adversely affected by inequality can be delivered, and ongoing project evaluation to guide planning, implementation, and continuous improvement can be incorporated.
PBSO, SEFBHN, and our project partners believe through this comprehensive Strategy, critical, tangible benefits can be achieved. Strategy benefits are expected to include improved responses to persons with MHDS, MHSUDS, and persons at risk for behavioral health crisis who encounter law enforcement; decreased likelihood of further crisis situations; reduction of harm, including harm caused by further progression through the criminal justice system and related negative outcomes; enhanced community relations and collaboration; and an overall improvement in both public health and public safety.