Sheriff Hoffman expands ‘How We Serve’ campaign to highlight protocols for dealing with persons experiencing mental illness

Original initiative launched shortly after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis

This is the front of the new How We Serve infographic regarding the Sheriff’s Office’s procedures for dealing with individuals suffering with mental illness. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman has announced the expansion of the agency’s How We Serve campaign to highlight how deputies are serving those experiencing mental illness.

How We Serve: Defining the Culture of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office was released on June 16, 2020, “just more than two weeks after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis,” a Sheriff’s Office news release points out. “The document was created in response to the national conversation about police use of force and demand from many advocacy groups to reform law enforcement policies. The document was shared with the public through the agency’s social media accounts and garnered significant media coverage,” the release adds.

“To continue the conversation about law enforcement best practices and how the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office serves its community, the How We Serve campaign has expanded to incorporate the unique ways the agency is treating vulnerable populations,” the release points out. In How We Serve: Our Approach to Mental Illness, the Sheriff’s Office “shares information about crucial mental health training that sworn law enforcement and corrections deputies, 911 operators, and members of the Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) receive. The campaign also highlights the agency’s partnerships with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Community Assisted & Supported Living, Inc. (CASL), and First Step of Sarasota,” the release says.

Correctional programs, including a 12-week mental health curriculum and the agency’s Collaborative Approach to Reintegration through Education (C.A.R.E.) Pod, are featured on the second page of the document, the release notes. “The document also includes the integration of Mental Health First Aid training into the requirements for all sworn and civilian sheriff’s office members.”

This is the back of the new infographic. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

“It is no secret that the law enforcement profession has evolved ten-fold in just the last decade,” said Sheriff Hoffman in the release. “Unfortunately, it is a tough field to be in, but we believe to best prepare our deputies for tough encounters, we must train them for any situation they may face,” he added with emphasis. “The purpose of this campaign is to highlight the importance of training, community partnerships, and resources. As law enforcement officers, we must modernize our approach and training to address the issues of mental illness so we can better assist citizens who are experiencing a crisis.”

To learn more about the How We Serve campaign, visit SarasotaSheriff.org or visit the agency’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube accounts, using the hashtag #SCSOHowWeServe.

In coming days, the release points out, members of the public also will be able to visit the agency’s Sarasota headquarters, located at 6010 Cattleridge Blvd., to pick up a printed copy of the campaign infographic.

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