Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is taking different stance on Baker Act

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 9:38 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is re-evaluating how its deputies employ the Florida Baker Act.

It permits law enforcement to commit someone to a receiving center if they appear to be a threat to themselves or others.

Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith is digging a bit deeper into all of this, though.

Smith partnered with Northwest Florida Health Network to create a cohesive training plan for his 35 deputies.

It’s an 8-hour course focused on knowing how to deal with children who may be experiencing trauma.

“I’m hoping this training is going to open the deputies’ minds up to, “OK, look, this is not a Baker Act,” Smith said. “This child is experiencing some other kind of trauma. We need to look at another way to help them, and it may not be sending them to Tallahassee.”

Minors are sent to the Apalachee Center Inc. in Tallahassee where they can be evaluated for up to 72 hours.

One incident, in particular, caught Smith’s attention.

“Last year a 6-year-old was Baker Acted,” Smith said. “That’s pretty young. It’s a little bit too young to be put in the back of a patrol car and sent 80 miles away without their parent.”

The Sheriff also said he hopes other agencies adopt this program.

“Cause it’s just like, we’re recertifying firearms every year,” Smith said. “Why aren’t we recertifying in how to deal with people who are going through trauma and how to deal with people who may have mental health issues?”

Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies are expected to take the course sometime next month.

Copyright 2022 WJHG. All rights reserved.