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Lake Mary Police Department’s Mental Health Intervention Group

Featured Photo from Lake Mary Police Department’s Mental Health Intervention Group

Historically law enforcement agencies in Florida, or for that matter across the country, have had very few options when responding to 911 calls for people suffering from mental health problems. This type of call for service often necessitates immediate intervention by law enforcement for the safety and wellbeing of the person in crisis.

Historically law enforcement agencies in Florida, or for that matter across the country, have had very few options when responding to 911 calls for people suffering from mental health problems. This type of call for service often necessitates immediate intervention by law enforcement for the safety and wellbeing of the person in crisis.

One option for law enforcement has been to take the person in crisis into protective custody and transport them to a local mental health unit for evaluation and treatment. This is done under the Baker Act law. Over the next several days the person in crisis is stabilized and then discharged from the mental health unit.

In reality, it is very common for those suffering from mental illness to get Baker Acted multiple times. This is largely due to the patient’s struggle to manage their mental illness. In the fall of 2020, the Lake Mary Police Department embarked on a mission to better support those suffering from mental illness by providing patients with a wider array of care, while reducing additional Baker Acts and minimizing avoidable police interactions. 

What started out as an idea has now turned into a collaboration with local health care organizations, the faith-based community, as well as other non-profit groups. It is with this broad base of support that the Mental Health Intervention Group (MHIG) was born.  This is a one-of-a-kind, groundbreaking program, combining both public and private organizations that operate within a cooperative community framework. 

MHIG is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and there are more than a dozen organizations within the cooperative. Now Lake Mary police officers have tools and resources that they could only dream of a year ago.  

Today when an officer comes in contact with a person in crisis, and a Baker Act is needed, the person in crisis is safely transported to a receiving facility. A referral form is completed by the officer and forwarded to MHIG for the initial assessment. After the patient is discharged, mental health professionals and social workers go to the patient’s residence where they provide follow-up care and treatment.  

When a person who is suffering from mental health challenges, but does not meet the Baker Act criteria, comes in contact with law enforcement, they are also offered MHIG services. The goal in this case is to prevent them from getting to a point of crisis where a Baker Act becomes necessary. With faith-based leaders, social workers, hospitals, and police officers all working together, we are making a difference in the city of Lake Mary.  

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