The mission of Savannah Police Behavioral Health Unit (SPDBHU) Partnership is to promote enhanced child safety, child permanency and child and family well-being through effective interventions with families having parental substance use/abuse disorders and involvement with the justice system and child protective services.
The goal of establishing the SPDBHU is to create an effective community intervention to reduce the use of jail for adults, young adults and juveniles who may need alternative services or may have behavioral health, substance abuse needs.
The overall objectives are to:
- Develop and provide specialized training to police officers and other first responders through a 24 hour Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team program.
- Address Savannah’s Opioid and substance abuse problems
- Create multi-disciplinary teams between first responders and other victim service providers
The SPDBHU will be comprised of three vital components to accomplish the mission.
- Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team: consists of volunteer sworn CIT members who have completed the qualifying 24-hour ECIT training course. A position in the ECIT program is open to non-probationary CIT officers who are assigned to uniform positions and have already completed the 40-hour GA CIT course.
- The Behavioral Health Response Team: The BHRT is an essential component of the Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) that responds to crisis calls and conducts follow-up with individuals and families who have frequent or high risk contact with police due to behavioral crises that may result from mental illness and/or substance abuse. The BHRT consists of either two uniformed ECIT officers or a uniformed ECIT officer partnered with a licensed clinician.
- Service Coordination: To maintain partner networks, program connections, community groups, and referral sources, the Service Coordination is staffed through the Savannah Police/Behavioral Health Unit with a dedicated Program Manager. Service Coordination’s focus is crime and overdose reduction through the identification and engagement of individuals who are chronically arrested, and families affected by it, whose root cause of behavior is related to opioid and substance use disorders.
Referral sources include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Savannah Police Department
- Savannah Harm Reduction Coalition
- Chatham County District Attorney’s Office
- Chatham EMS
- Behavioral Health Crisis Center-Gateway
- Coastal Harbor
- Recovery Place
- Front Porch
- Other service providers
BHRTs receive referrals through the E-MAIL managed by the BHU Commander. The BHU Commander will review referrals to ensure the person lives in or has had police contact with in the City of Savannah and Chatham County. The unit commander will make assignments based on BHU capacity and the following criteria (in order of priority):
- Risk to others
- Frequent contacts
- Escalating behavior
- Risk to Self
The BHU is Commanded By Major Robert Gavin
MEET THE BHU UNIT
Major Robert Gavin, Unit Commander
APO Anthony Watkins
Cell Phone: 912.414.8170
APO Watkins has been a member of the Savannah Police Department since 2016. In addition to being ECIT certified, APO Watkins is a member of the Hostage Negotiations Team and Peer Support Team. Prior to his law enforcement career, he served seven years in the Coast Guard and was a nationally certified EMT.
APO Julie Cavanaugh
Cell Phone: 912.429.2407
APO Cavanaugh has been a member of the Savannah Police Department since 2016. She has a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and is currently pursing a Master’s degree in human services. In addition to being ECIT certified, APO Cavanaugh is a member of SWAT and the Peer Support Team. Prior to her law enforcement career, she served eight years in the Army.
Rebecca Galbreath, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Ms. Galbreath has a Master’s degree in social work. Her experience includes working with children who have been abused or neglected and providing them advocacy through the court and foster care systems, counseling children with mental health diagnoses and their families as part of an Intensive Family Intervention Team, assisting consumers and their families in the state as a crisis counselor for the Georgia Crisis and Access Line, and providing individual counseling to all ages at Gateway Behavioral Health Outpatient Services.