Florida man called 911 about having phony 'suicidal thoughts' so he could hitch free ride to Tampa: Deputies

A Florida man hoping to get a free ride to Tampa was arrested after he called 911 and lied about having suicidal thoughts in an attempt to get Baker acted, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. 

The situation unfolded on Tuesday when a deputy was dispatched to the Dollar General store on Palmetto Street in Poinciana. The deputy was responding to a call regarding a man who called 911 alleging that he was having suicidal thoughts, Sheriff Judd said. 

When the deputy spoke with Harris, he ultimately admitted to lying about having suicidal thoughts because he needed a place to spend the night. Harris said he was tired of living at his current residence in Poinciana. 

Mugshot of Christopher Harris | Credit: Polk County Sheriffs Office

Harris concocted a plan to call 911 about having suicidal thoughts so he could get Baker acted and spend a few days in a mental hospital. Once released, he planned to use their resources to set up transportation to get him to Tampa since his mom no longer wanted to drive from there to pick him up, deputies said. 

Harris was arrested on one count of misuse of 911. 

What is the Baker Act?

The Baker Act gives those who need urgent mental health care immediate mental health services in Florida. The law gives families and friends the ability to seek emergency mental health care for their loved ones. It should only be used when all other avenues of intervention have been exhausted. 

The law allows mental health professionals, doctors, and judges to decide whether to commit a person to a facility for examination. A person can be held for up to 72 hours, giving professionals time to evaluate the individual and their condition. 

Specific criteria must be met for someone to use the Baker Act. 

A person must be mentally ill, they must refuse to participate voluntarily in a mental health evaluation or believe they must not need one, prove to be a threat to themselves or someone else, and they are incapable of taking care of themselves. 

One can also voluntarily use the resources of the Baker Act to use the services provided for others.