Oklahoma Leading Nation In Deadly Police Shootings
OKLAHOMA CITY - In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Oklahoma City lawyer Adam Banner asked the question “Why does Oklahoma lead the nation in police shootings?” While he says racial bias and police training play a role, the largest factor is mental health treatment. Or rather a lack of it.
Last year, Oklahoma had the second highest rate of mental illness among adults, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, but only spent $56.22 dollars per patient. One of the lowest amounts in the nation.
All of that means the burden of dealing with the mentally ill falls to police, with a wide range of potentially deadly results.
“If I'm in one place I might get an officer who knows exactly what to do to deescalate a situation. If I'm in another jurisdiction, I may have just killed my loved one by calling the police,” Legal Director of the ACLU-OK said.
In Oklahoma City, Police Chief Bill Citty said officers do what they can through training and special units, namely the Crisis Intervention Team, but agreed in the end, they're not doctors and training can only do so much.
“Sometimes it's just, it's unavoidable. If somebody like that is putting somebody's life in danger then you don't give the officers much choice,” Citty said.
OCPD does have low numbers of jailing the mentally ill, according to data provided to News 9 by Citty. According to the data in 2015, officers responded to just over 13,300 calls in which a person was mentally ill. Of those, 7800 were transported to hospitals or treatment centers and just 164 were taken to jail. An incarceration rate of roughly 2-percent.
But ultimately, Citty said the problem starts well before the call to 911.
“The things we haven't be able to deal with in society, our social programs we haven't been able to deal with in society, well you know what ends up happening? The police officer ends up dealing with those problems.”