By Robert Smith
Nick Silva, who was then Pawhuska’s police chief, said Wednesday of last week that he was very encouraged by Grand Lake Mental Health Center’s delivery of iPads to the municipal police force for the purpose of getting help faster for local residents experiencing psychological difficulties.
Silva, who was fired Friday morning, said June 26 that Edwin Fair Community Mental Health Center would no longer be the provider of mental health evaluations and services for psychologically troubled persons encountered by Pawhuska police officers in the line of duty. Silva said eight iPads had been delivered to the Pawhuska Police Department, and the department would be receiving a total of 12 of the devices. Officers would be able to use them, while in the field, to make contact with mental health professionals and allow those professionals to speak directly with possibly psychologically ill persons, he said.
Silva said he anticipated the iPads would result in a more streamlined, efficient approach to assisting mentally vulnerable and mentally ill persons. Instead of police officers having to take an individual to the Pawhuska Hospital and wait on a mental health specialist to arrive and conduct an evaluation, it would be possible for police officers and mental health specialists to collaborate electronically and eliminate the hospital visit, Silva said. Instead of officers taking troubled individuals to the Pawhuska hospital to await an evaluation, the evaluation could be conducted via the iPad and the potential patient could be transported directly to a Grand Lake facility in Vinita or Pryor, Silva said. Another facility is being developed in Stillwater, he said. “It’s just going to be safer for everybody,” Silva said, anticipating that mental health specialists in touch electronically with police officers working in the field might be able to pick up on details that the officers had not noticed. “This is tremendous because mental health is a majority of why law enforcement is involved in things, honestly,” he said. Now that Silva has been dismissed, Charlie Cartwright, a veteran Osage County Sheriff’s Office employee, is being brought in as an interim Pawhuska police chief. It is not clear who will be the chief over the longer term. For more information about Grand Lake Mental Health Center, visit www.glmhc.net.