Fountain PD rolls out second BHCON unit
Last updated 8/24/2022 at 2:36pm | View PDF
The Fountain Police Department recently introduced its second Behavioral Health Connect Unit – BHCON 4.
BHCON (pronounced "beacon") pairs a Fountain Police Department officer with a Licensed Behavioral Health Clinician from UCHealth Memorial Hospital to respond to emergency 911 calls determined to have a behavioral health issue as a primary factor.
FPD's BHCON 4 Unit will collaborate with its BHCON 3 Unit and the highly successful BHCON program at the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. FPD's program includes a case manager who will follow up on every mental health call to ensure citizens contacted during incidents are aware of resources in the community.
The program works as follows:
An FPD officer makes initial contact with the individuals involved in the situation, attempting to de-escalate and develop a rapport. The officer will secure the scene, then file charges and make arrest; or, the officer can radio for the clinician to join the officer on scene for a different tactic.
When the UCHealth Clinician joins the FPD officer, she contacts the party and any relevant third party; conducts behavioral health assessment/determines disposition; and provides resources to the relevant parties.
If necessary, the clinician can direct that the party be taken to an Emergency Room, directly admitted to a mental health facility, detox, WIC, etc.
The clinician then makes referral to a case manager for follow-up, conducts thorough review of the individual's file, 911 call and jail history, conducts further assessments, researches and provides further resources, makes additional referrals, and numerous other follow-up steps to stay with the case until completion.
The goal is to divert clients from jail and the Emergency Room when a behavioral health issue is a primary factor. BHCON also allows patrol officers to return to normal patrol functions, while the BHCON unit is handling the client in crisis.
The new BHCON Unit includes Clinician Priscilla Pfeifer. She earned her Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) with an emphasis in mental health and trauma from the University of Denver in June 2022, and has completed additional courses for addiction counseling. She has now joined the BHCON team as a Behavioral Health Clinician Co-Responder for law enforcement.
While earning her degree, she joined UCHealth's Behavioral Health Team and interned on the HOPE unit with patients experiencing co-occurring mental health disorders, to include substance use addiction and withdrawal, providing clinical assessments and interventions.
She also worked PRN as a Behavioral Health Specialist to assist in care coordination and de-escalation of high-risk individuals. She is excited and grateful for the opportunity to continue her career with UCHealth and provide behavioral health services to the community of Fountain and join the Fountain Police Department as a BHCON Clinician.
FPD Officer Christopher Diriwachter will be partnered with Pfeifer. Diriwachter has been employed with FPD for a little over four years and has 10 years' law enforcement experience with a background in Corrections. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice and is a few credits away from an Associate's Degree in Psychology.
He has also served on several specialized teams to include FPD's Rapid Response Team (RRT). He is currently a Firearms Instructor and a Field Training Officer. He is also a certified Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) Officer.
He said he is looking forward to being part of the BHCON Unit so he can help those in the community receive the assistance and resources that meet the citizens' specific needs.