By Erin Beu
When you need help, you call 911, and police show up. But police are not needed every time someone needs help. Instead, that person might need a mental health expert. Oklahoma City Police Department officials said that’s why some officers have the ability to FaceTime an expert right there at the scene. For about a year, the department has had the technology that allows officers to give an iPad to a person in need to chat directly to a mental health expert. Police officials now want people to know they have the tool. The officers can give an iPad to a person in need to chat directly to a mental health expert. Master Sgt. Corey Nooner said officers are often called out to mental health calls because there are not a lot of other options. “We need to have a conversation nationally about the fact that we don’t have the mental health support services that we need,” Nooner said.
Oklahoma City police have taken it upon themselves to have a mental health expert ready to go, according to Nooner. “The iPads that have been made available to our CIT officers are equipped to access mental health professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. Officers can either get advice from the professionals on the iPad or give the iPad directly to the person in need. “It’s another tool to help them if they can’t believe they can effectively evaluate somebody,” Lt. Jason Knight said. Knight told KOCO 5 that the technology is great for people who live in rural areas. “They may need this technology because the closest facility to see a licensed professional may be an hour or two away,” he said.