Behavioral Health Bureau

OCSD Behavioral Health Unit

The Behavior Health Bureau is a new unit tasked with assisting the homeless population and those with mental health disorders through a robust program that includes proactive engagement, case management, and resource distribution. The goal of the Behavioral Health Bureau is to create a professional, collaborative, and appropriate response to mental health calls for service with an aim of better connecting people with services and reducing recidivism.

The Behavioral Health Bureau, supervised by Captain Nate Wilson, includes six sergeants, eight Homeless Outreach Deputies and approximately 50 Homeless Liaison Deputies assigned to the Sheriff’s Department’s 13 contract cities. 

The Bureau evolved from the Department’s previous Homeless Outreach Team program, which launched in November 2016 with two regional teams assigned to proactively work with homeless individuals and strike a balance between providing services and enforcing the law.

While assisting the homeless will remain a core function of the Bureau, the team also has implemented a case management component in which they conduct weekly reviews of all calls in the Sheriff’s Department service area involving an individual experiencing a mental health crisis. They review the scenario and allocate follow-up assignments to determine what resources may be available.

Critical to the success of the Behavioral Health Bureau is the Sheriff’s Department’s collaboration with the Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA), which provides representatives to work alongside deputies in the field and during the case review process. The Bureau is piloting a co-responder model that includes a mental health expert. With the HCA's partnership deputies will be to rely on someone with extensive knowledge of mental health issues on a call for service.

The Behavioral Health Bureau is working on building a multi-disciplinary team with additional service providers to offer holistic services. The Bureau will continue to identify partners that will increase the opportunity to help those in need. The Bureau also is increasing monthly training for team members, which will include a focus on how to handle the many critical incidents they may come across in their role.