New Orange County and Orlando teams improve mental health response to crises
An Orlando Sentinel article details the work in that area of the behavioral health response teams, which are similar to the efforts led by former Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight in his new role as CEO of First Step of Sarasota.
In the Orlando area, as in many jurisdictions in the country, law enforcement personnel have historically felt they have two options when responding to someone suffering a mental health crisis: determine whether the person should be admitted involuntarily for mental health treatment or arrested.
Behavioral Health Response Teams, like those in Orange and Sarasota counties, have mental health counselors who also respond to many emergency calls, ready to help in a nonthreatening way, when appropriate. This new approach, inspired by some fatal interactions with law enforcement, is designed to save lives and prevent law enforcement officers from having to deal with situations they are not trained to handle.