Midwest City is supporting a new way to fight crime in the community.
The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services announced its Smart on Crime initiative in December, and Midwest City wants to be the first to officially advocate for the program.
The state has allocated about $20 million of the more than $100 million needed to fund the Smart on Crime Initiative, but Chief Brandon Clabes says his department already has proof that this approach works five years ago; Midwest City police brought on their own mental health clinician at the municipal jail.
Clabes says they have screened and treated 3,000 people with needs so far.
“Our mental health crisis calls have increased almost about four or five a day just in Midwest City,” says Clabes, “and we have a population of about 56,000, so you multiply that across the state and you know what we’re dealing with.”
He says of the inmates they have screened at the jail, only 17% go on to prison. Only 37 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties have a screening process during intake, though.
Three-quarters of DOC prisoners are non-violent offenders, and Clabes says of those, 80% need services that are not being offered. As someone who sees the struggles of citizens every day, the chief hopes to appeal to Governor Stitt's business sense by pointing to the long-term savings of Smart on Crime.
He says, “You can spend $2,000 for mental health intervention up front, or you can spend $19,000 to incarcerate somebody in the state of Oklahoma. Then if you take their children and place them in foster care, that’s another $23,000.”
Within three years of being fully funded, Clabes says the Smart on Crime Initiative is projected to pay for itself. For everyone suffering across the state, that investment is worth it.
Clabes says Oklahoma City and Edmond are the next cities planning to officially announce their support for the initiative.