Flagler Sheriff’s Behavioral Response Unity Offers Mental Health Assistance in Dual Response with Deputies

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FCSO offers mental health aid along side deputies when there is a situation with a mental health episode involved.

Last year, the BRU was established through a grant, and since then the unit has responded with deputies to mental health calls, assisted in crisis negotiations, and assisted in training K-9 handlers with finding missing endangered persons quickly.

Megan Ionadi, a BRU Mental Health Specialist, joined patrol units at a suicide threat, where a female attempted suicide by gun while heavily intoxicated.  FCSO’s Crisis Negotiation Team had attempted to make contact with the woman, but was unable to. Ionadi was able to talk the female out of the home. The female was placed in protective custody under the Baker Act where she would get some help with detoxing due to her relapse into consuming alcohol.

Sometimes people facing a mental health crisis are more willing to speak with a Mental Health Specialist than a Deputy Sheriff,” said Sheriff Rick Staly. “This is one of the reasons we created the BRU.”

Another Mental Health Specialist, Teresa Shaw, assisted deputies during a trespass incident that involved a man suffering from schizophrenia. Shaw was able to de-escalate the situation and was able to enroll the man in some mental health services. She even continued to follow up with the man. During the original call, it was discovered the man had no insurance, so he was unable to receive mental health services. Now he is stable, on medications, has insurance and has housing.


y mother was a mental health counselor and implemented the Baker Act law for Orange County [Orlando] when the law was first passed,” added Sheriff Staly. “Dual response is being implemented across the country because we know mental health problems manifest in to criminal acts if they’re not addressed in time. But thanks to the grant and our Behavioral Response Unit and community partners, we are able to help provide mental health assistance to people in crisis instead of just locking them up.”

Sheriff Staly created the BRU, in June of 2022, and it was funded under the Criminal Justice, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Reinvestment Grant. The unit assists deputies with mental health situations and with substance abuse crisis situations/ They have helped respond to over 500 calls, and have helped provide care to over 60 people. Clients of the BRU are given follow up services, both in person and over the phone, care coordination, case management, and referrals. The BRU also meets with Flagler School Student Services to  handle cases monthly, coordinate services and has established partnerships with FCSO’s CNT, K9 and Patrol deputies.

Learn more about the BRU here at  this link.


By Krys DeWind

Krys DeWind has been a Flagler County resident since 2016. She is active in her community and is always looking for ways to better it. She has a community first attitude which is one of the central founding ideals of the Flagler County Buzz.

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