Pawhuska PD Using Tablets to Connect People to Mental Health Professionals

Tuesday, July 30th 2019, 11:40 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

An Osage County man is getting help after police said he asked an officer to kill him.

Pawhuska Police said the mental health tablets they use allowed the man to connect with a professional instantly.

Officers have been using the tablets for about a month and said they are making a difference in helping people with mental health issues. Pawhuska police also recently installed dash cameras in their patrol units, capturing moments that happen during officers’ shifts.

As Corporal William Wamego took a woman to the Osage County Jail just after midnight on Monday morning, he watched as a man lying in the road stood up.

The man walked to the side of the car, and said something to Wamego that he said unfortunately, he hears too often.

Wamego: “What are you doing?”

Man: “Can I be completely honest with you?”

Wamego: “Ya.”

Man: “Me and the wife are having a lot of problems. What’s it gonna take for you to just shoot me in the head?”

Wamego called for backup, and thanks to a tablet from the Grand Lake Mental Health Center, that officer was able to help the man right away. A professional talked to the man through video chat, and a bed at one of their facilities was ready for him in just 26 minutes.

“That shortens the process from previously, it’s taken as long as 12 hours just to decide if they can be detained for mental health and where to find a bed. Twelve hours to 26 minutes, it’s amazing,” Wamego said.

While waiting for the second officer to show up, Wamego learned the man was lying in the street because he wanted someone to run him over.

The corporal, who has worked for Pawhuska Police for almost four years is excited and passionate about this new way he can help people.

“When we can treat the root cause, the mental health, we actually can treat the person and that’s how you reform criminal justice in this state. That is my honest belief,” Wamego said.

The woman he was taking to jail was arrested for an unrelated traffic offense. Wamego said he’s thankful she stayed quiet and calm the entire time, not complicating the already tense situation.