Behavioral Sciences Unit

The Sheriff’s Office understands the importance of the special training involved when responding to a law enforcement call for service that involve mentally ill and/or mentally disabled individuals in crisis. Over the last 40 years, changes in mental health laws, closing of mental health facilities and law enforcement policies have brought law enforcement officers into ever increasing contacts with people who suffer from mental illness. Local Santa Barbara County Law Enforcement officials have estimated that anywhere from 15- 55% of all calls for service involve some type of contact with a mentally ill subject.

The Sheriff’s Behavioral Sciences Unit (BSU) was formed to oversee cases involving mental illness, develop a Crisis Intervention Team and to build community partnerships to help adopt restorative justice principles to divert individuals from the criminal justice system and into treatment.

Our BSU developed both an 8-hour and 40-hour P.O.S.T. certified Crisis Intervention Team course where law enforcement learn about various mental illnesses, de-escalation techniques and local resources. To date, the BSU has trained over 900 law enforcement officers, custody deputies and dispatchers in the 8-hour course. We offer the training to all local law enforcement agencies within Santa Barbara County.

The BSU is proud to have launched the CIT Co-Response Pilot project where we have a CIT trained deputy and a mental health clinician from county Behavioral Wellness paired together to respond to mental health crises. If you would like to learn more about the BSU initiatives and programming you may contact Dr. Cherylynn Lee at (805) 681 4231.

If you or your loved one are expecting a mental health crisis and need to call 911


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