With the click of a few buttons the Oklahoma City Police Department is now able to connect to a mental health professional while responding to a call.
“When the officers open up the iPad, they power it up and within a minute or two they can be in contact with a licensed mental health professional to help the assess the situation, develop a safety plan, talk to the consumer or the family members about resources,” said Master Sgt. Corey Nooner.
This program was all possible through a partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Now a year into the program, 130 Crisis Intervention Team officers use them daily.
“We get into situations where people are apprehensive about getting in the back seat of a police car and we have to drive them somewhere and let them interact with a counselor and be assessed.” Nooner said. “This gives us the ability to do all of that in the field if it is appropriate.”
The program also helps the department streamline their calls of service and better assess what may be needed when they head out to a call.
“We’ve gotten feedback from our officers that they are very valuable tools. They work really hard to try and de-escalate the situation and make it safe,” he said.
After the mental health professional talks to the person, they will tell the officer what the plan is for that individual.
“It’s just a great tool to reassure the officers that they are doing the right thing,” said Nooner.
The McClain County Sheriff’s Office and Tulsa Police Department also use the program.