LARGO – The Largo Police Department mental health team will receive reinforcements.
City commissioners voted 6-0 on Oct. 4 to approve a deal that will allow the department to use resources from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
Under the contract, the city will pay the sheriff’s office $295,400 over three years. The PCSO mental health unit will provide a dedicated civilian crisis response specialist, who will respond to calls along with the LPD mental health officer, according to Lt. Paul Amodeo.
Amodeo said the sheriff’s office unit has 11 crisis response specialists. Two are licensed clinicians and the other nine are licensed social workers.
The department previously contracted with Directions for Living to provide a civilian social worker in partnership with an officer. According to LPD spokeswoman Megan Santo, the department still partners with Directions for Living for its homelessness outreach program and the Telehealth Remote Access to Crisis Evaluation program.
Amodeo said the agreement with PCSO will expand Largo’s resources by tapping into the Sheriff’s Office’s network of agencies and vendors through the Pinellas Integrated Care program.
“So it’s kind of a robust increase in the services that we’re able to provide, and the case management system would be a huge plus,” he said.
He added that the agreement will help ensure that agencies do not duplicate services to the same clients.
“The PCSO has already partnered with the CPD (Clearwater Police Department) and they have an electronic medical records system, which is a case management system, which would increase our efficiency,” he said.
Commissioner Eric Gerard welcomed the agreement.
“I think it’s a very positive move and I really appreciate that we’re signing a contract with MHU,” he said. “I think it’s a wonderful thing.”
As of Oct. 6, the LPD mental health officer has responded to a total of 303 calls for service this year and 133 resources have been provided, according to Santo.
City commissioners also approved a resolution Oct. 4 waiving certain permits and fees to help homeowners who need to clean up or repair damage caused by Hurricane Ian.
Although Largo did not bear the brunt of the storm, it still caused some minor damage.
Consequently, several permits have been temporarily reduced to $1 until November.
• Charges for emergency exterior repairs to single and two-family residences.
• Mobile home demolition costs.
• Tree permit fees for damaged trees on multifamily and commercial properties.
• The requirement to obtain a fence permit for the repair of a damaged fence on single and two-family residential properties.
• Fees for a fence permit to repair damaged fence on multi-family and commercial properties.
• The cost of completely replacing a damaged fence.
“I’ve had a lot of comments over the past 24 hours about this,” Mayor Woody Brown said. “I think it’s really good that we’re doing this for people.”