Mental Health Issues Highlight 3 Recent Violent Incidents in Jacksonville: What Can Be Done?

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – After three violent incidents in recent days, News4JAX spoke to mental health experts about what more can be done to help people get the mental health treatment they need.

In each case law enforcement was called and in two of the events it resulted in the death of someone.

Another common denominator in each of these tragedies was that the person responsible for the incident had already been Baker Acted, meaning the person was admitted to a mental hospital for mental evaluation. News4JAX wanted to know why people who are Baker Acted are often released after 24 or 48 hours, and if the police can do more to help those experiencing a mental health crisis.

It has become an all-too-familiar story for local tragedies: a breakdown in mental health leading to injury or even death of a person.

The most recent incident required six PIT maneuver attempts by officers after the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said 28-year-old Raymond Dick fired his weapon in a road rage incident and then at police . Dick was eventually forced off the road in Mandarin.

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News4JAX learned that Dick had mental health and anger issues and was also Baker Acted.

Last month, Angielly Dominguez was Baker Acted out of concern for her personal well-being before police said she took her boyfriend’s car and guns and drove to New Jersey. According to police, Dominguez, who had been treated for paranoid schizophrenia, then shot and killed her sister.

Last week, Pamela Cabrera led JSO officers on a 30-mile chase after kidnapping her 5-year-old daughter of whom she lost custody. Court records show Cabrera suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and was hospitalized in a mental health facility. She had a car accident during the police chase which resulted in the death of her daughter.

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News4JAX asked mental health experts why people who have been Baker Acted are often released when it later turns out they are not mentally stable.

“If you compare it to a crisis stabilization unit or a Baker Law drop-in room to an emergency room, it really is an emergency room for psychiatric issues. And once the individual meets the criteria to be Baker Acted, they are admitted. But once they no longer meet the criteria, they are no longer suicidal or murderous or both. And the doctor feels that is indeed the case, he should be released by law, you have civil rights issues,” said Dr. Christine Cauffield of LSF Health Systems.

Cauffield said people cannot legally stay in a Baker Act facility if they no longer meet the criteria after receiving treatment. Unfortunately, mental health experts say it’s not uncommon for someone to stop taking their medication and not follow their treatment plan.

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Cauffield is also an advocate for additional mental health co-responders who assist police when called. She said the Lutheran Services Florida program has been successful so far in meeting the mental health needs of residents.

“92% of calls were successfully diverted, meaning the people they answer don’t end up in a Crisis Stabilization Unit and Baker Act situation or arrested,” she said.

Cauffield said lawmakers are also realizing just how much of an issue mental health is, recently announcing $126 million to increase access and improve Florida’s mental health system.

Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax – All Rights Reserved.

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