The Broward Sheriff’s Office has many specialized units working every day to deliver the best possible public safety services to Broward County.
One of those teams is the Department of Detention’s Baker Act Unit. The unit’s primary responsibilities are to safely transport individuals ordered by the courts under the Baker Act or Marchman Act to a mental health treatment facility. Each member of the unit sees every interaction as an opportunity to help people get the support and resources they need at a crucial point in their lives.
As someone with a sister who suffers from schizophrenia, Deputy Vickie Kendrick, who is also part of the unit, knows the special care each call for service requires.
“We treat any person we encounter how we would want to be treated; how I would want my sister to be treated,” Deputy Kendrick said. “This unit does not discriminate.”
Sergeant Nedra Gabriel, who leads the Baker Act Unit, became emotional after the first time she rode along with the unit in 2019. She saw firsthand how mental health issues affect those in crisis and their families. When the unit is out on calls, they look for ways to help and revisit or checkup on past individuals they served. The team brings hygiene supplies on every call because they know someone experiencing a mental health crisis might not be taking proper care of themselves.
“When someone has a mental health illness, they are not always cooperative or in the right state of mind. It takes a special type of person to communicate with them and to de-escalate a situation,” Sgt. Gabriel said.
To see more of what’s happening inside BSO and the agency’s specialized units, follow the Broward Sheriff’s Office on Facebook (@BrowardSheriffsOffice), Twitter (@browardsheriff), Instagram (@BrowardSheriffsOffice).