ACSO partners with Meridian Behavioral Health to provide mental health assistance

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 4:33 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office is taking steps to address mental health needs in the community.

Working with Meridian Behavioral Health, they have created a ‘co-responder’ program featuring a CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) certified deputy alongside a Meridian Mental Health Clinician.

The program, which begins on Monday, is designed to provide immediate, on-scene support, counseling and early trauma intervention for calls that involve people with mental illness or in emotionally-charged situations.

“Typically the calls come into us, but it’s not always law enforcement-type services they need. Many times it’s mental health-type services,” said ACSO Public Information Officer Art Forgey. “And so, being able to co-respond with mental health professionals will allow us to immediately be able to assist those folks, and partnering them with a mental health professional to get the services they need.”

“That mental health professional is right there, ready to get started and provide people services, not within the judicial and law enforcement community. Services that they are actually in need of rather than law enforcement services, and that’s a win-win. It keeps them out of the court system and gets them the help that they need.”

Meridian’s first team was launched in 2018 with the City of Gainesville and the Gainesville Police Department.

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