The El Paso County Sheriff's Office announced Monday it will partner with the Fountain Police Department as part of a program that pairs law enforcement officers with licensed behavioral health clinicians.
The Behavioral Health Connect Unit (BHCON, pronounced "beacon") is a patrol unit introduced by Sheriff Bill Elder in 2018. Fountain police introduced its own BHCON program Monday and will assist the Sheriff's Office's south districts.
On a BHCON call, a Fountain police officer would make first contact, de-escalate and develop an initial rapport with the person and then make a decision to call in the health clinician. The clinician then follows up with a behavioral assessment, provides resources to a third party, takes the person to the hospital or admits them to a mental health or detox facility, and makes a referral for a case manager to follow up among other steps.
BHCON allows police to return to normal patrol while letting behavioral professionals handle behavioral health crises, the Sheriff's office said in a statement.
"Our goal is to divert clients from jail and the emergency room, when a behavioral health issue is a primary factor," a Fountain police statement said.