TAMPA (WFLA) — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has created a Behavioral Resources Unit comprised of newly hired mental health counselors and social workers.

Sheriff Chad Chronister emphasized that the unit will be a pro-active unit, not a reactive unit. He says the Behavioral Resources Unit will connect individuals with the services they need before they are in a crisis situation, “with the hope of keeping them out of the criminal justice system.”

From January 1, 2018, through October 19, 2020, there were more than 10,000 Baker Acts in Hillsborough County. Of those, 1,204 people were placed under a Baker Act more than once.

The sheriff’s office said the unit has officially been working since July and has already made a difference, citing their relationship and recent interaction with a 50-year-old man.

Over the past 15 years, the sheriff’s office has had contact with the man over 100 times due to his mental health condition. Now with the new Behavioral Resources Unit, they meet with him on a regularly basis to make sure he has the resources to stay healthy and out of the criminal justice system.