Mobile Tech Helping Bartlesville Police Combat Mental Health Issues
BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma - Police officers and deputies across seven counties in our area are teaming up with mental health specialists.
They want to help people get quick access to therapists, and sometimes save a trip to the hospital, and mobile technology is making that happen.
Bartlesville police are using a new tool on the streets. They say iPads are helping them combat mental health issues.
We're used to seeing police out and about, but Bartlesville Detective Jim Warring says mental health issues are so common, that officers actually spend a lot of time at hospitals.
"Police officers, we're not mental health professionals. We're not medical professionals," Warring said.
He said, in the past, officers would take people to Wagoner Community Hospital - an hour and a half trip from Bartlesville.
"You would have to take them into a protective custody because they are a danger to themselves,” he said. “What that entails is, most of the time - handcuffing, transporting to the medical facility, the hospital, emergency room. You'd have to wait."
But, for the past few months they've teamed up with the Grand Lake Mental Health Center.
"You give them the option ‘do you want help,’” Warring said.
If the person voluntarily accepts help, he or she is connected to a therapist, RN or a recovery support specialist right away through the iPad. The service is available 24/7.
Grand Lake Mental Health Center COO Larry Smith said, "Sometimes they just need to talk. And instead of going to the emergency room, instead of someone calling the police, they touch that button - and that's the big savings - and that's the use of technology today."
Smith said the number of people going to an in-patient bed from Washington County has been cut by 50 percent since police started using the iPads.