Sheriff’s Office BHCON Unit Subject of Washington D.C.-based Diversion Think-tank Effort

May 26, 2022

Several years ago the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, along with El Paso County Public Health and in conjunction with UCHealth, founded BHCON (Behavioral Health Connect, pronounced “beacon”).  BHCON is a co-responder model that pairs a deputy trained in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) with a mental health clinician.  Their focus is to primarily respond to calls for service with a known mental health nexus and, when appropriate, divert persons in crisis away from the criminal justice system.

Co-responder models locally and across the country vary in design and scope.  EPSO's BHCON Unit in particular and its success have been the subject of research and consultation requests by law enforcement and behavioral health agencies from around the nation, as well as has been the subject of governmental policy and legislative research efforts.  Recently, Lisel Petis, Senior Fellow of Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties for the Washington D.C.-based R Street Institute, worked with BHCON and two other law enforcement agencies in Wyoming and Florida that have also developed successful mental health diversion programs, to author a research paper titled “Conservative Jurisdictions Champion Diversion Efforts”.  That paper can be found here:

https://www.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/RSTREET252.pdf  

To complement this research, the Sheriff’s Office Behavioral Health Programs Manager was asked to participate in a nationally broadcast panel discussion along with these other two agency representatives to discuss the importance of mental health diversion efforts in their respective communities.  That panel occurred on Wednesday, May 18th, 2022, and a video recording of that broadcast can be found here:

https://www.rstreet.org/2022/05/25/event-accountability-and-safety-witho...
 
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office continues to be a leader in public safety initiatives as evidenced by the success and national recognition of our BHCON unit.  Our leadership stands committed to continuing and growing this key program into the future and to dedicate resources to its continued success.

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MR 22-058