Pasco Sheriff’s Office is committed to providing supportive ways to help our community and travel upstream with crime prevention by addressing mental health. In line with our motto of “We Fight As One,” PSO shares the belief we can raise awareness on the value of sound behavioral health and wellness within our community. Although mental health is a healthcare issue, it can often have a law enforcement element. Roughly 80 percent of PSO’s calls for service have a mental health component, ranging anywhere from those who are trespassing as a way to find shelter for a night, to those experiencing a mental health crisis and posing a threat to themselves or others.
As a result, PSO created one of Florida’s largest and most robust behavioral health units in 2019. The Behavioral Health Intervention Team (or BHIT) looks to make a meaningful impact on the lives of citizens with which they engage, by connecting them to services like mental health counselors, stable housing and job placement services. PSO’s BHIT connects with those that are high utilizers of emergency services, including law enforcement, fire rescue and emergency medical services. Members of this unit provide resources to individuals who are struggling and help them find lasting solutions for the challenges they face. BHIT detectives often find that individuals call emergency services because they’re not sure where to turn. BHIT is able to assess their needs and connect them the best community-based resources to address them, leading to a reduction in calls to 9-1-1.
Mental health has no single profile or common case, and meeting the unique needs for an individual’s mental wellbeing can come in many forms. Behavioral health cases require proper communication and outreach to establish trust. BHIT detectives build meaningful relationships through trust with their clients, while connecting citizens with resources in our community. This can include assisting clients with transportation to appointments, finding low cost medication and reassuring needs are met as much as possible. PSO’s BHIT includes detectives with a variety of specialities to best fit a citizen’s needs, from working with those that have survived an overdose, to connecting with children or veterans that have traumatic experiences or specific medical conditions, to responding to scenes with a mental health counselor, or providing animal-assisted therapy K-9s to bring calm to a stressful situation. Read more about a few BHIT specialities: